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Rumsfeld begins diplomatic tour

Ivanov and Rumsfeld
Ivanov and Rumsfeld are believed to have discussed Afghanistan, and arms control  


MOSCOW, Russia -- The Russian and United States defense ministers met in Moscow Saturday for talks on the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan, and the controversy over U.S. missile defense plans.

The brief visit to Moscow was the first leg of U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's tour of five countries, including Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and India.

After talks with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, Rumsfeld went to the Kremlin to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin. He left Moscow later Saturday.

Russia has backed efforts by the United States to form an international coalition against terrorism, launched after the September 11 attacks on Washington and New York.

Uzbekistan has agreed to provide the U.S. with use of its airspace and the "necessary military and civilian infrastructure" of one of its airports.

Pentagon sources say more than 1,000 U.S. troops, including special operations forces, are at the Khanabad military base near Karshi, Uzbekistan, roughly 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of the Afghan border.

Missle defense discussed

Apart from the military campaign in Afghanistan, Rumsfeld and Ivanov also discussed the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile agreement, left over from the Cold War.

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Washington wants to scrap the treaty as it seeks to develop a new anti-missile system. Moscow has opposed the U.S. plans and has argued that the ABM treaty should be retained.

But speaking Saturday, the Russian defense minister appeared to leave door open for some kind of compromise.

"They tell us this agreement is outdated and is a relic of the Wold War," Ivanov said. "But there are other Soviet-American and Russian-American agreements in this sphere that are also Cold War relics.

"Russia and the U.S. have a mutual understanding and a desire to look to the future together. However, before exiting any one of these treaties, you have to establish something new," he said.

Ivanov said that during Rumsfeld's meeting with Putin, the possibility of strategic arms reduction was discussed.

On Friday, Russia's Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, said Russia was still working with the United States on an anti-ballistic missile agreement, but it was too soon to talk about signing a pact.

Putin is scheduled to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush in mid-November in Washington, but Igor Ivanov said there were still a number of issues to be settled.



 
 
 
 


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