American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2013 – Fulfilling an agreement they made in August on the margins of a meeting between their countries’ senior diplomatic and defense officials, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu conducted their inaugural video teleconference yesterday to maintain an open dialogue and defense cooperation, Assistant Pentagon Press Secretary Carl Woog reported.
In a statement summarizing the meeting, Woog said Hagel and Shoigu discussed a number of issues, including missile defense, Syria, cybersecurity and countering improvised explosive devices.
Hagel noted that a joint plan of action for a diplomatic resolution of Iran’s nuclear program does not eliminate the need for U.S. and European allies to continue implementing missile defense plans in Europe, Woog said. The European Union facilitated the plan of action, agreed upon by the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and China in Geneva last month.
“Secretary Hagel stressed that U.S. and NATO missile defense efforts pose no threat to Russia and urged that both sides continue consultations on future missile plans in Europe,” Woog added.
Hagel and Shoigu also discussed recent planning efforts to remove chemical weapons from Syria under the auspices of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the assistant press secretary said. Hagel provided Shoigu with an update on U.S. planning to neutralize the chemical weapons once removed from Syria, he added.
“Secretary Hagel encouraged Russia to stay engaged with the process and continue providing critical assistance to ensure that chemical weapons are removed on schedule,” Woog said.
The defense leaders agreed to continue holding video teleconferences regularly, he said, and as needed if critical issues arise.