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Soviet Defense Minister to Tour U.S. Military Bases, but B-2 Is Off Limits

From Reuters

Soviet Defense Minister Dmitri Yazov will see a range of high-tech U.S. arms but will not view the new B-2 stealth bomber when he visits the United States next week, a senior defense official said Friday.

He told reporters that Yazov will look at ships in California and at a B-1 strategic bomber at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona but would not go to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., where the radar-evading B-2 is being tested.

“We intend to be open on this visit,” said the official, who asked not to be identified. Asked by reporters if that would include a look at the stealth, he said: “No”.

He did not say whether Yazov had asked to see the B-2.

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The six-day Yazov visit, which begins Sunday, is the latest in a series of U.S.-Soviet high-level exchanges and the first such trip by a Soviet defense chief to the United States.

Yazov will be greeted Monday by Defense Secretary Dick Cheney at the Pentagon, where the two men will hold daylong talks. State Department and National Security Council officials will also join the discussions.

“It is not a negotiating session,” the defense official said. But he said Cheney was anxious to exchange information with Yazov on defense budgets and military strategy.

Yazov and Cheney will visit the historic Civl War battlefield at Gettysburg, Pa., on Tuesday, and Yazov will make speeches at the National Defense University in Washington and to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York that day.

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On Wednesday, Yazov will visit San Diego naval base and Camp Pendleton Marine training base, both in California.

He will go to Luke AFB Thursday to see the swing-wing B-1 and training for F-15 and F-16 fighter jets. At Fort Bragg, N.C., he will see Army airborne training. He returns to Washington Friday for more talks with Cheney.

Yazov and then-Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci met in Bern, Switzerland, last year in the first face-to-face talks between the senior U.S. and Soviet defense leaders since World War II when the two nations were allied against Nazi Germany.

The Bern visit led to an exchange of visits by U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. William Crowe to the Soviet Union and then-Soviet Chief of Staff Sergei Akhromeyev to the United States. Carlucci also visited the Soviet Union.

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Such talks so far “have had a high degree of reciprocity and we want to encourage a continuation of that,” the defense official said Friday.


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