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Sunday, 4 November, 2001, 05:52 GMT
Rumsfeld pursues diplomatic offensive
Mr Rumsfeld and President Putin
Mr Rumsfeld is paving the way for a US-Russia summit
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is in Uzbekistan to meet some of the 1,000 US troops stationed there for the US campaign against Afghanistan.

He met Uzbek President Islam Karimov and Defense Minister Qobir Ghulomov in the Uzbek presidential palace on Sunday morning.

Uzbek border guard
The Uzbeks share a border with Afghanistan
It is Mr Rumsfeld's second visit to Uzbekistan in a month, highlighting its importance in the campaign.

Mr Rumsfeld, who is on a five-nation regional tour to shore up diplomatic support for the US offensive, earlier visited Russia and Tajikistan.

He said he reached no deals on military co-operation with Tajikistan - which has allowed flights carrying US aid across its airspace - but a bi-lateral "assessment team" would investigate how it could assist in the military campaign.

The agreement to station US troops in Uzbekistan came during an October visit by the defence secretary, but their role is limited to search-and-rescue operations.

Analysts say Mr Rumsfeld is interested in looking at using Uzbekistan as a forward base for supplying US soldiers in Afghanistan.

Mr Rumsfeld goes on to Pakistan and India on Sunday and is to return to Washington on Monday night.

Missile defence

Mr Rumsfeld said the first stage of his trip, in Moscow for talks with President Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov, were fruitful and had included an agreement on intelligence gathering.

A spokesman for Mr Ivanov said the two countries were increasingly co-operating in the fight against terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

We have been often told in the past that the ABM treaty is a relic of the Cold War. In part, and I repeat in part, I agree with this

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov

A BBC correspondent in Moscow says it is the first time in 50 years that Russian and American secret services are working together.

The US and Russia also seemed to be moving closer to resolving their dispute over America's plans for a missile defence shield.

Mr Ivanov agreed for the first time with US descriptions of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, which Washington wants to scrap as a relic of the Cold War.

"We have been often told in the past that the ABM Treaty is a relic of the Cold War. In part, and I repeat in part, I agree with this," Mr Ivanov said.

US summit

Mr Ivanov's comments, along with other upbeat remarks by officials, suggested that agreement on the treaty could be reached in time for a US summit between President Putin and George W Bush, due on 13-15 November.

Sergei Ivanov
Mr Ivanov: Building a basis

Talks between Mr Rumsfeld and Mr Ivanov centred on the two countries' co-operation in the military offensive, and also the question of arms control.

Correspondents said the two men were trying to smooth the way for an agreement by the two presidents on reducing the number of US and Russian missiles.

President Bush wants to scrap the 1972 Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty and implement a new missile defence system, while President Putin is pushing for a reduction in inter-ballistic missiles on both sides.

The BBC's Caroline Wyatt
reports on American Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's visit to Moscow
See also:

20 Sep 01 | Americas
Profile: Donald Rumsfeld
25 Oct 01 | Americas
US seeks rewriting of ABM treaty
25 Oct 01 | South Asia
Rumsfeld: 'We'll get Bin Laden'
12 Jul 01 | Americas
Death throes of ABM treaty
02 Nov 01 | Americas
The art of the ABM 'non-deal'
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