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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ivanov: Russia Ready for Defense Talks

ROME — Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Wednesday that Russia is ready for intensive dialogue with the United States on a proposed new strategic framework on defense.

He said Russia sought more clarity from Washington on its plans for a missile defense shield.

After a two-hour meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Ivanov did not reiterate publicly the Kremlin's opposition to the missile defense initiative. Instead, he underlined Moscow's willingness to have U.S. and Russian expert working groups begin "substantive and concrete discussions" soon.

Powell, at a joint news conference, promised the administration would give Moscow "in the very near future" more details on which to base its assessment of the U.S. proposals.

Ivanov also said Russia would cooperate with the United States in trying to reach a compromise agreement at the UN Security Council on Iraqi sanctions. He gave no further details.

Powell and Ivanov met on the fringes of a meeting of foreign ministers of the Group of Seven leading industrial nations and Russia. It was their sixth meeting since Powell took office with President George W. Bush in January.

"Russia is prepared for a constructive dialogue [on strategic issues] which was stated by President [Vladimir] Putin" at his recent summit with Bush in Slovenia," Ivanov told reporters with Powell at his side.

That summit agreed the two sides would establish working groups of Defense and Foreign Ministry officials to delve into details on missile defenses and cuts in nuclear forces.

The Russian side has chosen its delegation and as soon as the United States does likewise, "we are prepared to begin substantive, concrete discussions," Ivanov said.

U.S. and Russian officials plan an intense series of meetings for the rest of the year.

Bush and Putin are due to meet again at the G-7 summit in Genoa from July 20-22. Powell will see Ivanov at next week's Association of Southeast-Asian Nations meeting in Hanoi and in New York in September at the annual UN General Assembly.

The Bush administration plans to test a space-based laser interceptor as early as 2005 as part of its ambitious new missile defense agenda, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

About $110 million has been included in the fiscal 2002 defense budget to study technologies, including the space-based laser, aimed at hitting missiles in their "boost" phase three to five minutes after launch, said Robert Snyder, executive director of the Pentagon's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.