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Russia: Rumsfeld To Discuss Afghanistan, Arms Cuts

Moscow, 29 April 2002 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld arrived in Moscow today for talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Ivanov on the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan and nuclear arms cuts. Rumsfeld flew into the Russian capital after a tour of Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan.

Earlier in Turkmenistan, Rumsfeld also discussed the Afghan conflict with President Saparmurat Niyazov. Turkmenistan has provided humanitarian assistance for displaced persons inside Afghanistan.

Yesterday, Rumsfeld also made stopovers in Kazakhstan. In the Kazakh capital Astana, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev told Rumsfeld his country is increasing its limited military support for the war in Afghanistan. After the talks, Kazakh Defense Minister General Mukhtar Altynbaev, said Kazakhstan will sign a memorandum with the U.S. to provide "emergency use" for U.S. and Western warplanes at three airfields in the Central Asian nation.

In addition to briefing Ivanov on the outcome of his four-day tour, Rumsfeld is expected to discuss a dispute between Russia and the U.S. over joint deep nuclear arms cuts. Moscow is upset over American plans to store and not destroy perhaps hundreds of warheads as part of plans to cut both countries strategic nuclear arsenals. U.S. Undersecretary of State for international arms control John Bolton is also scheduled to take part in today's talks.

President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin hope to sign at a summit in Moscow next month (23-26 May).

The Russian and U.S. negotiators are trying to reach a deal to cut their nuclear arsenals by a third to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads by 2012.