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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ivanov Talks Arms Ahead Of Meeting With Powell

Setting the tone for Russia's first direct contact with the Bush administration, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Thursday the time had come for serious dialogue with the United States on missile defense and other nuclear issues.

At a news conference two days before he meets U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell for the first time, Ivanov said the world political climate depends on relations between the United States and Russia — a view contested by the Bush administration, which does not consider Russia its equal.

"We are in the mood for the most active dialogue at all levels, starting with the highest level … on the entire range of issues in Russian-American relations," Ivanov said.

Ivanov refused to comment on the arrest this week of Robert Philip Hanssen, a career FBI agent who was charged with spying for Russia, saying he though the U.S.-Russia agenda was significantly broader than that issue.

Powell and Ivanov will meet Saturday in Cairo. Ivanov said the meeting place was chosen because both diplomats had plans to be in the Middle East at the same time.

A cold chill has been blowing both from Washington and Moscow since President George W. Bush took office last month, with U.S. officials accusing Russia of trying to revive its Soviet ambitions and selling missile technology to countries like North Korea and Iran.

Ivanov's measured, almost bland assessment of U.S.-Russian relations contrasts with the tough talk from Defense Ministry and Kremlin officials who in recent weeks have accused officials in Washington of maligning Russia's reputation.

Saying U.S.-Russian relations had "significant potential in guaranteeing international security," Ivanov added: "We realize perfectly well that to a great extent the world climate depends on just how relations with Russia and the United States take shape."

The agenda for Saturday's meeting includes missile defense, NATO expansion, the Middle East, Iraq, the Balkans and other issues, in no particular order, Ivanov said.

But it is missile defense that is likely to be the hottest question.

Russia opposes U.S. plans to develop a national missile defense system, and this week presented NATO Secretary-General George Robertson with an outline for a nonstrategic missile defense proposal for Europe to counter the U.S. initiative.

Ivanov repeated the standing Russian argument that a U.S. missile defense program would violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty and destroy global strategic stability.

"If we pull out one of the links of such a security structure, then it could fall apart," Ivanov said.

Ivanov proposed holding multilateral talks to assess the threats that have prompted the United States to consider developing its own missile shield.

"I think the whole issue of START and ABM that that we put together under the term strategic stability requires very serious dialogue with the participation of the United States and other states concerned — European and China, etc.," he said.

"Even the strongest world power cannot solve such problems alone," Ivanov said. "Historical experience shows that. We propose finding joint paths."