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Secretary's Opening Remarks from Plenary Session

Presenter: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
June 14, 2000

June 13, 2000

(Opening Remarks from Plenary Session with Marshal Igor Sergeyev at the Ministry of Defense, Moscow, Russia)

Let me thank you for hosting this meeting here, once again, in Moscow. This represents the fourth time that you and I have met during the past year, and I want to say to all of the members of the press who are here how much I have valued the relationship I've had with you. I have found you to be very candid and straightforward, as I've indicated to your president, and very, very professional, and I have treasured this relationship that you and I have established.

As you're going to hear, the document that we will soon sign does not seek to establish new programs but is simply a confirmation of many of the programs, such as the 16 programs that we have under way. It may be somewhat redundant, but nonetheless, I think, symbolically, it is also very important to continue to send the signal that the United States and Russia can and are working together on a number of very important projects in a spirit of friendship and cooperation.

As you pointed out, our soldiers are serving side by side in Bosnia and Kosovo. We hope to be able to expand our relationship so that we can cooperate on all levels, with all services, and to do so by organizing pre-deployment meetings to exchange military officers from various units and to gather more confidence in the relationship that we have established. As you have pointed out, the shared early warning center that will be located here in Moscow is a very important continuation of the relationship that was established last December when a number of your experts came to Colorado to assure Russia and the United States that any Y2K problems could be addressed in a joint fashion. This will also give us an opportunity to continue our discussions in helping stop the spread of chemical, biological, and weapons of mass destruction. We have a mutual interest in seeing that these destructive instruments do not continue to proliferate. We will also continue our efforts in sharing information and ways in which international terrorism can be stopped. I might recall that during my last visit a bomb exploded while I was in Moscow. We understand fully the need to deal with acts of terrorism, and we want to continue to cooperate in sharing information and technologies between our countries and with other NATO allies to help prevent the spread of terrorism.

We have a number of other issues to discuss during the course of our plenary session, not the least of which will be areas of strategic interest. I suggest that we have an opportunity to discuss them once the opening session is closed.

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