Moscow, 13 August 2001 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov met today for talks expected to focus on U.S. plans to build a missile defense shield. Before meeting Ivanov, Rumsfeld said the U.S. intended to stick to its position and push in favor of a new nuclear agreement that would allow U.S. missile defense plans. He reiterated that the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) has "outlived its usefulness".
Rumsfeld also said the U.S. is ready for major reductions of its existing arsenal of offensive nuclear weapons, without giving a specific figure. Each country has an arsenal of more than 7,000 strategic nuclear weapons. The current START-2 nuclear reduction treaty would have them cut their arsenals by half.
Rumsfeld said such cuts in the future, along with increased bilateral military, economic, and political ties, could become pillars of a new strategic relationship between Russia and the United States.
However, the U.S. defense secretary repeated calls for Russia to create an environment friendly to foreign economic investment.
Rumsfeld may also meet President Vladimir Putin today before leaving Moscow.