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Rumsfeld Describes Ivanov Talks As 'Helpful'

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 11, 2001 – Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said he and Russian counterpart Sergey Borisovich Ivanov discussed missile defense and a broad range of other issues during discussions June 8 at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

Rumsfeld attended a series of meetings with NATO and other defense officials during his June 6-8 stay in Brussels.

The U.S. defense secretary and Ivanov spoke to reporters at a NATO press conference following their meeting. Rumsfeld described his discussions with Ivanov as "very good, enjoyable (and) helpful." Ivanov said the same through an interpreter.

The talks with Ivanov, Rumsfeld explained, are among initiatives to create opportunities for the United States and Russia to "fashion what we hope will be a framework that will make sense for the 21st century."

Rumsfeld said he and Ivanov had spoken earlier in the day about Russia's relationships with NATO and the United States. He said they also "specifically discussed missile defense, and our plans to reduce the numbers of nuclear weapons."

"We discussed not only the issues of general strategic stability," Ivanov said, "but also a whole series of multiple threats which both our countries stand before currently."

In meetings with NATO and other defense ministers in Brussels, Rumsfeld persistently declared that the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction -- and the ballistic missiles to deliver them -- necessitates the creation of a U.S.- sponsored ballistic missile defense system.

Such a system, he noted, would be built in consultation and cooperation with NATO members, other U.S. allies and Russia. Observers note that the creation of such a system would require the modification or elimination of the U.S.- Soviet Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972, a matter of some concern to the Russians.

"Now, how to parry these threats or how to approach them in the future … we don't have absolutely identical views," Rumsfeld said. "There are some divergences, but as I said before, there is nothing tragic or nothing terrible about that."

For his part, Ivanov felt he couldn't comment about the proposed ballistic missile defense system, because "we have not started those negotiations.

"So, I really can't answer that yet," he said.

After the press conference, Rumsfeld departed Belgium on a flight to Turku, Finland, for a round of talks with defense ministers from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden.

Rumsfeld told the traveling press during the flight that he and Ivanov had discussed a variety of emerging threats and other defense issues affecting both NATO members and Russia -- ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, terrorism, "and down the road, various other types of (cyber attack) problems," he said.

The secretary's June 8 NATO schedule included attendance at a Permanent Joint Council meeting, which included all 19 NATO members and Russia. Before his 90-minute afternoon meeting with Ivanov, Rumsfeld had also attended a Euro- Atlantic Partnership Council meeting. He also attended separate bilateral meetings with Hungarian, Uzbekistani, and Georgian defense officials that day.

Rumsfeld's senior military adviser, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton, accompanied the defense secretary to several NATO meetings held June 7-8. Shelton flew into Brussels June 6 from Cairo after participating in talks with Egyptian defense officials, and previous meetings with officials in Jordan.

President Bush is slated for a June 11-16 trip to Europe that includes stops in Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Poland and Slovenia. Bush will visit NATO headquarters in Belgium. In addition to calls on President Milan Kuchan and Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek while in Slovenia, Bush is expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time June 16.

Rumsfeld returned to Washington June 9.

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