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Joint Media Availability with Secretary Rumsfeld and Minister Ivanov

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
June 08, 2001

Friday, June 8, 2001

(Media availability with Secretary Rumsfeld and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov following their meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.)

Rumsfeld: I might just open by a few scribbled notes here if I can read what I just wrote.

The minister and I have just had a very good, enjoyable, helpful meeting. I am not current on all the proper diplomatic words so let me just work through these (notes).

We covered a broad range of substantive issues. Earlier in the day we had talked a bit about Russia's relationship with NATO. We talked about the very broadest aspects of the U.S.-Russia relationship going forward. We specifically discussed missile defense and our plans to reduce the numbers of nuclear weapons. I mentioned the desire on the part of the United States to find a framework, construct, or arrangement between our two countries that can move us forward into the 21st Century.

I told the minister something that I feel very deeply, that the interests of the Russian people and the people of the United States are very much the same, and it is to have a stable world, a peaceful world, a world where people who make decisions can feel certainty and confidence. And that certainly is the approach that I know the president of the United States will bring to the meetings that will occur shortly between our two presidents. Mr. Minister.

Ivanov: (through a translator) Ladies and gentlemen, all I want to say is that I can confirm what the U.S. secretary of defense has said. In fact, we have had a very interesting meeting, a mutually beneficial meeting, and a very pleasant meeting. We discussed not only the issues of general strategic stability, but also a whole series of multiple threats which both of our countries stand before, currently.

And you very well can imagine that it is not on every issue or every topic of discussion that we have absolutely identical views. There are some differences between our sides occasionally. And I don't see anything terrible in having those kinds of divergences once in a while. The most important thing is to hold a very calm and useful dialogue between our two sides, and sometimes we can even say, a very professional dialogue.

The secretary of defense has very graciously invited me to come and pay a visit to the United States, and I have accepted.

I can also state that we have agreed, the secretary of defense and I, that we will continue in the future our discussions on international security issues. We will even discuss some economic issues that have a bearing on international security. We will do so not only between ourselves and our delegations, but also at very specific experts' level.

I think the time has come to answer some questions.

Q: Mr. Minister, might I ask you, did the secretary make any progress in convincing you of the need for strategic missile defense and possibly changing or scrapping the ABM treaty?

Ivanov: Maybe Secretary Rumsfeld will correct me, but I did not get the impression that he was trying to convince me to tear up the 1972 ABM treaty.

Q: Mr. Secretary, were you trying to convince him to tear it up? (Laughter)

Rumsfeld: No, I was trying to do exactly what I said in my opening statement. That is to set in place a process where our two countries -- and through successive meetings of the secretaries of state and foreign ministers, and presidents, and the minister and this individual -- will have opportunities to fashion what we hope will be a framework that will make sense for the 21st Century.

Ivanov: I might speak seriously for a moment. I might just say that we do have an understanding between us that there are not only more threats facing us now in the 21st Century, but they are multifaceted, much more so than they were in the past. In this regard, we have very good mutual understanding on this point.

Now, how to parry these threats, or how to approach them in the future, in order to take care of these threats that affect both of us -- we don't have absolutely identical views. There are some divergences. But as I said before, there is nothing tragic or nothing terrible about that.

Q: (through translator) Did you discuss maybe, for instance, the tensions that exist in some of the hotspots in the world, like the Middle East, for example?

Ivanov: Specifically not the Middle East as a topic separate unto itself, but in the realm of overall places where threats might proceed from, yes. We did touch on some of these hotspots in the world. Yes.

Q: Mr. Minister, is it possible, or do you think it is possible to negotiate with the United States a new framework that will allow the United States to build, research, develop, test, and deploy missile defenses?

Ivanov: It is very difficult for me to answer that question simply because, as you yourself said, you have to start negotiations and, as of yet, we have not started those negotiations. So I can't really answer that yet.

Q: (through translator) NTV asks both ministers: you know, we have already heard within these walls proposals from the Russian side that maybe one ought to look at the possibility of combining both U.S. and Russian technologies to develop a joint system. At this meeting, have either of you gentlemen raised or discussed any of these possibilities of using Russian technologies?

Rumsfeld: That subject did not come up today although, as you know, the president of the United States has spoken in his remarks, I guess a week or two ago, about the possibility of cooperation with Russia, as well as with our allies.

Thank you very much.