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Russia: Defense Chief To Meet NATO Ministers

Brussels, 8 June 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov is due to meet with his counterparts from NATO countries during a meeting in Brussels today of the Russia-NATO Joint Permanent Council. Ivanov is expected to hold separate talks afterwards with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The U.S. plan for a missile defense is expected to be among the main discussion subjects.

Rumsfeld yesterday sought to persuade his NATO colleagues that there are enough missile threats from so-called rogue nations to justify scrapping the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to allow the U.S. to build a missile defense system.

Ivanov, after arriving in Brussels, was quoted by the ITAR-TASS news agency as saying Russia's opposition remains unchanged. He said potential missile threats can be countered in ways other than undermining what he called the basis of international security.

Meanwhile, Russia's Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is in Ankara today, where he is expected to meet with Turkey's President Ahmet Sezer and Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit.

Ivanov's talks are expected to include preparations for a visit to Turkey by President Vladimir Putin. Talks are also expected to focus on an array of economic cooperation and security issues.

Tensions between Ankara and Moscow were heightened in recent months over allegations of Turkish support for the activities of Chechen separatist rebels.

Turkey has denied all such allegations.