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Russian Defense Minister Meets With Bush, Rice, Rumsfeld

US President George W. Bush (R) welcomes Russian Defense Minister Sergei B. Ivanov with a handshake 12 March 2002 during a private meeting in the Oval Office of the White House. Ivanov began two days of talks with US leaders expected to center on the war on terrorism and nuclear arms issues. AFP Photo by Paul J. Richards
 Washington (AFP) Mar 12, 2002
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov met with US President George W. Bush Tuesday in hopes of soothing tensions over nuclear arms cuts and the war on terrorism ahead of a May 23-26 Russo-US summit.

After meeting with Bush and the US leader's national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, Ivanov -- who met earlier with US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld -- described the talks as "rather warm and very productive."

"We have discussed a broad range of issues, going from the reduction of offensive strategic nuclear arms to terrorism, non-proliferation, economic cooperation, and the issue of power or energy," Ivanov told reporters.

The Russian official also said Bush had promised Moscow's worries about Washington's plans to send military trainers to the former Soviet republic of Georgia to help battle terrorism would be "taken into account."

"We also discussed the issue of Georgia, because we still see that terrorists and criminals are present in the territory of that country, and as I understood the president assured me that all those Russian problems could not be resolved unless the Russian interests are taken into account," he said.

Regarding Moscow's ties with the NATO alliance formed to counter the Soviet Union, Bush "has assured me that there is still a great interest in forging those new relationships and maintaining that cooperation," said Ivanov, who was also expected to meet with US Secretary of State Colin Powell during his stay.

The visiting official said talks at the White House did not cover one of the most contentious issues marring Russo-US relations: media reports that US nuclear policy includes contingency plans for making Russia a target.

But Ivanov said he and Rumsfeld had a "very long and very detailed discussion" about the reports and would discuss the matter publicly at a joint press conference set for Wednesday.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that following a secret review of the US nuclear posture, the Bush administration ordered the Pentagon to draw up contingency plans for the use of nuclear weapons against a wide range of countries and in a variety of scenarios.

The countries included not only Russia, China and the states Bush called the "axis of evil" -- Iraq, Iran and North Korea -- but also Libya and Syria, according to the report, which prompted demands for clarification from Moscow and Beijing.

Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said the review was "not a targeting document of any kind" but reflected the changing nature of the threat with the end of the Cold War and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

"It is hardly likely that we face an all-out nuclear attack by the Soviet Union. It is more likely that we have to face very real and growing and changing threats of weapons of mass destruction from a variety of places," she said.

Ivanov did not give details of talks with Bush on reductions in offensive nuclear weapons, which the US leader and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to at a November summit in Washington and at Bush's Texas ranch.

The two leaders called for reductions in nuclear weapons to 2,200 to 1,700 warheads over the next ten years at their last summit in November, but both sides have so far been unable to agree on how to put it in writing.

Russia also has raised objections to a US plan to store some of those warheads rather than destroy them.

All rights reserved. 2002 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

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Russia Says It Will Match US On Arms Cuts, Demands Binding Accord
Moscow (AFP) Jan 30, 2002
Russia said Wednesday that it would agree to slash its nuclear arsenal to match proposed US cuts as long as the reductions took the form of a binding legal treaty.

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