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WASHINGTON, December 17, (ITAR-TASS). U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has officially informed the Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, that the Pentagon will not give up the plans to deploy elements of its system of antiballistic missile defense in Europe after the signing of the Geneva agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, which Washington named previously as the main source of threat to all NATO countries.
Hagel said in the course of a conversation, which Shoigu and he had for the first time ever in the teleconference mode.
A Pentagon spokesman said the two ministers discussed, apart from the antiballistic missile system, the problems of cybercrime, Syria, and struggle with improvised explosive devices.
Hagel told his Russian interlocutor that the agreement on Iran’s nuclear program reached by in the so-called P5 +1 format in Geneva did not rule out implementation of the ABM plans by the U.S. and its European allies. He claimed along with it that the U.S. and NATO’s efforts in the area do not pose whatever threat to Russia.
Hagel pointed out the importance of continued consultations between the sides on the future plans in the field of ABM in Europe.
Shoigu and Hagel also paid special attention to the elimination of chemical weapons under the auspices of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Hagel informed Shoigu on the U.S. plans to destroy chemical weapons, which would be removed from the Syrian territory, on one of the U.S. naval ships in the Mediterranean. The ship has the necessary equipment.
U.S. Secretary of Defense supported Russia’s readiness to continue taking part in the process and to render critically important assistance for ensuring a timely removal of weapons from Syria.
The Pentagon spokesman recalled that Hagel and Shoigu reached agreement on beginning communications with the aid of teleconferencing in early August when talks between the Russian and U.S. Foreign and Defense Ministers in the two plus two format were held in Moscow.
They agreed to continue regular videoconferences, as well as to hold them in case of emergence of critical problems.