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Cohen Trip Focuses on NATO, Russia

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 2, 2000 – Defense Secretary William S. Cohen will meet with NATO defense ministers in Brussels, Belgium, and with Russian officials in Moscow next week.

Cohen begins his trip with the dedication of the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans and ends it following meetings in Moscow June 13.

NATO's Defense Capabilities Initiative will be a prime talking point during his meetings in Brussels, said senior defense officials. The initiative covers such aspects as enhanced mobility, precision engagement and better logistics. NATO leaders signed the initiative in Washington in April 1999.

Officials said the secretary will also discuss the European Security Defense Identity. "The European Union since last December had a so-called 'headline' goal that's compatible with the Defense Capabilities Initiative goal," said the official. "Part of this meeting will be to make sure that NATO and the European Union are coordinating at the ministerial level and to continue this effort."

Cohen and the other defense leaders will also discuss the Balkans and what should be done to further stabilize the countries around the former Yugoslavia.

Officials said the secretary will meet with his Russian counterpart Marshal Igor Sergeyev at least three times -- in Brussels as part of the NATO-Russia Joint Permanent Council, during a bilateral meeting in Brussels, and again in Moscow.

Before going to Moscow, Cohen will participate in the Nordic- Baltic-U.S. defense ministerial in Lithuania. He will also meet with Swedish leaders in Stockholm.

In Moscow, Cohen will discuss arms control, shared early warning, broadening defense cooperation and the cooperative threat reduction program, said officials. Cohen will also discuss Chechnya and terrorism with the Russians.

The visit to Moscow will happen right after President Clinton meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "The secretary will obviously follow up on what happens at the [presidential] summit," said the official. "Should there be any breakthroughs at the summit, the secretary will be in a position to exploit them."

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