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Secretary Rumsfeld Media Availability with Russian Minister of Defense

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
June 12, 2003

(Media availability with Sergey Ivanov, minister of defense, Russian Federation, at the Sheraton Hotel, Brussels, Belgium.)


     Ivanov: [Translated.]:  I’ve had a fine talk with Mr. Rumsfeld, which is (Inaudible.) as it always is.  As we have in the main tackled U.S. and Russian defense and security-related matters, which were foreign threats, (Inaudible.) terrorism (Inaudible.) and security cooperation.  As you may well remember, we have had a recent meeting in Washington.  We have prepared our notes as to what has happened with the NRC [NATO-Russia Council] in this short lapse of time.  We have stood up (Inaudible.).  We have given it more impetus to our experts and specialists working on the very different areas.  And trust me as between ministers we are going to ask them what’s the U.S. (Inaudible.) in a short period of time.  I’ve also briefed Mr. Rumsfeld of the plans we have to hold exercises in the Pacific late this August, and I have also to say that in the very near term we will give official word to the Pentagon in terms of the invitation for the U.S. military to take a part in these exercises both in an observer capacity and as a participant.


     Rumsfeld: I agree with every word.  We had very good meeting.  We meet frequently and talk from time to time.  Our ministries have a good many projects that we’re discussing among ourselves and we have expert groups that meet periodically to see that the linkages continue and develop and become richer. 


     We do have one fundamental difference:  I’ve never fully understood why Minister Ivanov did not make it to Washington, D.C. before Michael Jordan retired.  It shows a certain --


     Ivanov [in English]: Neither do I.


     Rumsfeld: On the other hand, Michael Jordan may come back again.  I hope he does.  We’ll take a couple of questions.


     Q [Translated.]:  Question from the Interfax News Agency both to the Defense Minister of Russia and to the Defense Minister of the U.S. Mr. Rumsfeld, so what’s the need for the (Inaudible.) deployment of the U.S. troops from German territory onto Poland and the Baltics?  There have been quite a number of press and (Inaudible.) reports (Inaudible.) and to the Russian Defense Minister, what’s the Russian assessment of this information?


     Rumsfeld: You don’t believe everything you read in the press, do you?  A smart person like you?  I’m shocked.  The United States of America, under President Bush, is undergoing what is now a two and a half year study of our footprint, if you will, our arrangements in the world.  And I am personally deeply immersed in it, so I can speak authoritatively about it.  What we had is the various combatant commanders around the world look at their areas of responsibility and make their recommendations.  The problem is they have looked at their areas of responsibility rather than looking at the entire world, which is my responsibility.  So I have thanked them for their preliminary observations, sent them back to the drawing boards and they are going to come back in to me, and we are going to look at the entire globe and see -- how do we feel we should be arranged.  And I can assure you that, notwithstanding the inaccurate premise in your question, that we have not made final decisions, nor have I made any recommendations to the President, save a briefing that I’ve given him on the situation in northeast Asia.  That’s the extent of what I’ve briefed him on thus far. 


     Ivanov [Translated.]:  Well as for the Russian attitude here, too, I can give you a rather brief and concise answer.  The foreign ministers of the NRC at twenty, we have had a recent ministerial in Madrid.  We have reached agreement once again that each party is going to deal with their new troop presence in Europe -- and I would like to underscore this fact, exactly in Europe -- of their role proceeding from the Founding Act as now signed but still not ratified agreement on adaptation of its Conventional Forces in Europe treaty.


     Q:  Mr. Secretary, the United States and Russia had different views about the 1999 war in Yugoslavia, yet the militaries afterwards worked together in a peacekeeping role.  Is there any possibility, consideration, of that happening in Iraq?  And if you could both answer the question?


     Rumsfeld:  Well, I can say very briefly that the United States is, of course, receiving assistance from the United Nations and from dozens and dozens of countries around the world, and that’s really a question for Russia to determine what ways they think they’d like to be helpful.


     I could say, “Send money.” (Laughter.)


     Ivanov [Translated.]:  Well, I believe that would be the easiest and the most simple way to solve this issue.  But at the same time, I would not probably venture to draw any parallels right now between the war in the former Yugoslavia and in Iraq.  And besides, you most probably remember that the mandate issued to the Russian peacekeepers, to the Russian soldiers in there was to find a (Inaudible.) in which (Inaudible.) actually, hypothetically, (Inaudible.) Iraq.


     Thank you.


     Rumsfeld: Thank you.

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