The top U.S. military officer is in Moscow for talks on missile
defense, arms control and other issues in advance of U.S. President
Barack Obama's visit to the Russian capital in 10 days.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, said the U.S. desire to put a missile
defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, which Russia strongly
opposes, will be a key topic of his talks in Moscow.
the issue of missile defense is something that's been a significant
topic and issue for Russia and the United States and that will, I'm
sure, be something that we talk about," he said.
said he will be seeking a better understanding of the Russian
military's view of the missile defense plan, which top Russian
political leaders have sharply criticized.
Mullen's talks come
just days after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said there will be
no progress on broader arms control talks unless the United States
abandons the European missile defense plan. The renewal and expansion
of a strategic arms reduction treaty that expires in December will be
the primary topic for the Obama-Medvedev summit.
U.S. officials say
the missile defense system does not threaten Russia or its defenses,
but rather is designed to counter the growing missile threat from Iran.
But Admiral Mullen says while missile defense and arms control
will be on his agenda when he meets senior Russian military officers
and defense ministry officials during the next two days, he believes
there are also many other topics to discuss.
"We have areas of
common interests, whether it's security interests in Afghanistan, the
area of piracy, the area of terrorism," he said. "Those are the kinds
of things that I'm sure we'll have robust discussions on. And there
will I'm sure be discussions on the areas we differ on. And I think
it's important to continue those discussions as well to understand each
This is Admiral Mullen's first visit to
Moscow as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But because of the
importance of security issues for the upcoming U.S.-Russia summit, a
spokesman says President Obama has taken the unusual step of asking
Admiral Mullen to return to Moscow in early July to join him at those