of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Ivanov
Rumsfeld - I am Don Rumsfeld and that is Sergei Ivanov. I am
from the United States and he is from Russia. We have met for a couple
of hours. It was not long enough. And we will be meeting more during this
week while we're here. And, with those preliminaries I'll let you hit
Ivanov - Shall I speak Russian or English? Russian maybe.
Yes, I am Sergei Ivanov. He is Donald Rumsfeld. I just translated for
(Through translator) It is true that two hours of talks practically
without any interpretation were not enough for us. And we agreed to continue
or deliberations tomorrow in the format of two to discuss the issues of
the bilateral relations and some international issues. Today we have also
discussed the issues of our bilateral cooperation in the course of the
anti-terrorist operation conducted in the territory of Afghanistan. Perhaps
Secretary Rumsfeld will correct me, but I will say that in this area we
can witness and I am not afraid of saying but what is unprecedented
This interaction deals not only with the issues of cooperation regarding
Afghanistan. Since the United States is undoubtedly a major country, a
major NATO country, we have also discussed ways to enhance our relations
in the format of 20. While saying a major NATO country, I mean, first
of all its the U.S. military might since in political terms, as we all
know only too well, all NATO countries are equal.
The issues of strategic stability were separate on our agenda. We have
come to an agreement that in January on an expert level we will start
discussing the specific issues or military aspects of radical reductions
of strategic offensive weapons. Both the levels of reductions and time
frame of those reductions will be discussed and worked out as well as
the issues of verification and transparency. Of course those parameters
should be in compliance with the level of trust and confidence that has
emerged in our relations today.
Rumsfeld - Now I would like to give a lengthy speech. But unfortunately
I have arranged to host a very modest dinner some distance from here that
is due to start in 20 minutes. So instead of a lengthy set of remarks
on my part, I will simply say that we had an excellent meeting which will
be continued. I think we maybe ought to respond to a question or two and
I can take my leave and you all can go down to the Avenue of the Butchers
and enjoy yourselves. I recommend the mussels; the moules are very good.
Ivanov - I do agree.
Rumsfeld - Go ahead Charlie.
Q - I wonder, you haven't mentioned the ABM treaty and missile
defense at all. I take it from your discussions and statement that President
Bush's announcement that the United States will withdraw from the treaty
has not drawn a chill on your relations and that you will move full speed
ahead with the new strategic relationship. Would that be fair to say?
Ivanov -Actually this unilateral decision of the United States
was not a surprise for us. We still believe it was a mistake. We have
been presenting our arguments on the issue for many years so I am not
going to reiterate. But we still believe we still have a desire to bring
the relations in the area of strategic weapons into a reliable and predictable
area so we attach a lot of importance to the reductions of the strategic
offensive weapons. It equally concerns other international treaties and
agreements in the area of arms control and non-proliferation. Well as
far as Russian concerns, I can say regarding the withdrawal from the treaty
I can assure you that Russia has no concerns it is not afraid of that
new situation. What is of our greater concern is what will be the attitudes
and behavior of other countries under the circumstances. Thank you.
Rumsfeld - Why don't we try one from Russia?
Q - (In Russian) Translation: Well this is your first meeting
since the United States announced it was leaving the ABM treaty. Was there
a sea change, was there a qualitative change, would you think, in the
relationship between the United States and the Russian Federation?
Ivanov - (Through translator) Well if my memory serves me right,
it's our fifth or perhaps sixth meeting with Mr. Rumsfeld this year. So
I can tell you that I did not feel any changes in our attitudes in the
meeting. Speaking of Russia's responses as you have talked about them,
I can tell you that this issue was not discussed today.
Q - Regarding the shifting situation in Afghanistan, can you
just tell us the latest thinking about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden,
the progress of the war, and what the prospects are for progress in the
Rumsfeld - The subject of the whereabouts of the senior al Qaeda
and senior Taliban leadership is an interesting question. I know everyone
is focusing on it. It seems to me that until they are located and dealt
with it's not useful to try to speculate about how close one might be.
The second part of your question is that what's going on in Afghanistan
is proceeding according to plan, we are pleased with the progress, and
I had very good meetings in Afghanistan yesterday and feel encouraged
about the progress that is being made. But it would be wrong to say that
it is over, it's not, there still is a good distance to go.
Q - (In Russian) Translation: You were called one of the main
adversaries of NATO's transition to NATO at 20, how do you explain that?
And how do you explain the idea of transformation?
Rumsfeld - You don't believe everything you read in the press do
you? My goodness gracious. I have a practice of being disinclined to comment
on reports that are inaccurate. Indeed the truth is that some weeks and
months ago I sat down with the Minister in Moscow, as I recall, and without
prompting proposed some ways that I thought Russia and NATO might cooperate
more fully. So we need to be careful about reading mischief-makers.
And I have run out of time...
Q - One more.
Q - One more, please.
Rumsfeld - .. .although I want everyone to know it has been a
delight to be with you.
Q - Can you tell us if any of the prisoners captured in Afghanistan
in recent days do you believe if any of them to be senior members
of the al Queda leadership? And can you speak for a moment about Mullah
Omar can you respond to reports...
Rumsfeld - Wait, wait... why don't we try one question because
Q - OK, well more specifically just about the seniors. Are any
of the prisoners you believe them to be senior al Queda leadership?
Rumsfeld - We will know more after they have been fully interrogated.
I did not get a chance to comment on the first question, and I would say
that one way to characterize what happened in the U.S.-Russia relationship
is the way that President Bush did. That we are moving from mutual assured
destruction to mutual assured cooperation.
And I will leave the Minister he can answer both for himself and for
me in my absence. (Laughter.)
Ivanov - I can give you five minutes. (To Rumsfeld) Okay, I will
see you tomorrow.
Q - Mister Ivanov, are you pleased about the progress in Afghanistan?
Ivanov - In general yes, and I believe that the counter-terrorist
operation is going ahead based on quite a predictable scenario. And the
main military structure of the Taliban has been destroyed. But I would
like to stress again, and I agree with Secretary Rumsfeld, saying that
having destroyed the main military structure doesn't mean that you have
destroyed the Taliban and the rest of al Queda.
It is still a long way. We are only too well aware of that based on the
events in Chechnya where all major military units of the separatists have
been destroyed a long time back. So the Russian army has not been operating
actively there and still separate military cells as you may call
them and separate mercenaries they remain there and their arrest
or destruction remains our priority. At the same time I believe that concurrently
with the continuation of the search for the terrorists and their arrest
we should also think about restoring the normal life in Afghanistan. Otherwise
peace will never come to that country.
Q - (in Russian) Translation: Well you know, you mentioned that
the withdrawal from the ABM treaty undermines, puts in to doubt, 30 other
security or arms control treaties. So in these terms what do you believe
is the most dangerous vacuum created with that situation? You mentioned
that your greatest concern is about other countries, so can you specify?
Ivanov -Yes, I can. Primarily in the first place it deals with
all treaties, which to a certain extent, deal with non-proliferation issues.
First of all, it is the non-proliferation treaty. Secondly, it is the
nuclear test ban treaty. And thirdly, it is also under doubt, is that
the U.S. side will have to make a decision on an additional protocol to
the convention on biological weapons. I would like also to remind you
of the fact that as of today there is no legal mechanism that would govern
the strategic weapons reductions. Since the START I treaty has actually
been completed I mean the number of warheads while the START
II treaty has never entered into force and obviously may not enter into
force. Perhaps these are the main points.
Q - Mr. Minister, you say that you are not, regarding the ABM
treaty, you are not afraid of the new situation. But you are worried about
the behavior of other countries. Are you worried that the U.S.' unilateral
decision to withdraw will change the balance somehow, in reference to
other countries, and encourage others to have a weapons buildup? And can
you respond in English?
Ivanov - In fact you answer your own question quite right. Russia
is not concerned or afraid regarding its military security. But we are
very much concerned how the other countries will behave and whether they
will abide or not to any international agreement thinking, logically,
that if one country does not abide why should we?