Normalizing relations – top US military envoy in Moscow

Ahead of Barack Obama’s visit to Moscow in less than two weeks, Washington has dispatched its top-ranking military envoy to Russia to discuss normalization of the countries’ military relations.

On Friday, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen is meeting Russia’s Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and Chief of the Russian Armed Forces’ General Staff Nikolay Makarov.

According to Nikolai Makarov, nuclear disarmament and missile defense are dominating the talks.

“In our talks with the American side our main focus has been on the START treaty and US plans for anti-missile defense shield in Eastern Europe,” he said. “We also discussed problems in the Middle East, issues related to Georgia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, fighting piracy in Africa and North Korea’s recent nuclear test.”

The official said that Russia and the United States will sign major documents on military cooperation for 2009 and the years ahead during the American president’s visit in Moscow in early July.

Michael Mullen, in turn, pointed that the sides have many common challenges and threats which they should rebuff together to guarantee a brighter future for children.

“I am very encouraged by our meetings and also look forward to the outcome of a very important summit between president Medvedev and president Obama in two weeks [July 6-8],” he said.

In a visit that will last until June 28, Michael Mullen plans to meet several Russian legislative and executive power representatives. He will also visit Moscow Military District units and the Military Academy of the General Staff.

Admiral Mullen had planned a visit to Russia last year, but it was postponed due to the Caucasus conflict.

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