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American Forces Press Service

Gates Asks Russia to Partner on Missile Defense Development

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

MOSCOW, April 23, 2007 – The United States intends to be prepared for future threats and is inviting Russia to become a partner in a defensive endeavor, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said here today.

“We now face new threats that require new strategy for both deterrence and defense,” Gates told U.S. and Russian reporters. “Moreover, the ever-increasing pace of technological innovation, combined with the proliferation of mass destruction and delivery systems, means the threats we face now may be much more ominous in 10 to 20 years.

“Indeed, who can say in 2007, what states or groups may have such capabilities in 2017?” he asked.

Gates came to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior defense leaders to discuss U.S. plans to deploy missile defense assets in Eastern Europe. He said the main focus of his trip was to continue developing responses to the challenges posed by weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile proliferation.

Following his first meeting with Defense Minister Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov at the Russian Ministry of Defense, Gates said he would reiterate in all his meetings that the United States is willing to “explore cooperation with Russia across a full spectrum of missile defense activities.”

“We could potentially work together,” he said, “to experiment with new concepts and technologies, conduct research and development on missile defense systems and components, to share early warning data, to promote stability and to improve the capabilities of our forces to conduct successful, cooperative missile defense operations during peacekeeping or other joint military operation.”

Gates reassured the Russian defense minister that the U.S. plan for missile defense is not aimed at Russia or any particular country.

“They are oriented against potential aggressors in the Middle East and Southwest Asia whose leaders could someday use a handful of ballistic missiles in an attempt to blackmail Europe and America and sow chaos and sap our collective will,” he said.

President Bush believes “the deployment of missile defense is an essential element of our broader efforts to transform our defense and deterrence policies and capabilities to meet the new threats we face,” Gates said. “To that end, the United States is responding with a comprehensive political, diplomatic and military strategy that includes working with our allies and partners in other countries.

“We invite Russia to join our defensive endeavor as a partner,” he said. “We’ve agreed an expert group will continue our discussions on ballistic missile defense and other subjects of mutual interest and concern.”

Gates thanked the Russian defense minister for hosting their first meeting. The secretary said he found it “to be quite valuable as we engaged in honest and frank discussion of current challenges and opportunities in the world and the ways in which we can jointly address them.”

“The days of the Cold War are over,” he said, “and no one can seek to return to them. In today’s post-Cold War yet still challenging world, no longer is it presumed that one side must win and one side must lose when addressing specific issues. When both the United States and Russia work together, both countries and others win. The inverse is just as true: When we fail to work together, both countries may lose.”

Serdyukov said he hopes the negotiations with Gates would make a significant contribution to the further improvement of regional and global security.

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