Defense Chief Mattis Hints of Possible Meeting with His Russian Counterpart

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Friday stated that he was considering the possibility of meeting the defense chief of Russia, a possibility first reported by Reuters on July 17.

If these talks happen it will be the first talks between defense chiefs in years.

“I am considering meeting with my counterpart, but there’s been no decision,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.

According to Reuters, the last time a U.S. defense secretary even spoke telephonically with a Russian defense minister was in 2015, as relations between Moscow and Washington soured. It was not immediately clear when the last face-to-face meeting took place.

The idea of a possible meeting came after Russia announced it was ready to proceed with agreements reached by Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump “in the sphere of international security,” although the White House and Pentagon would not confirm any agreements had been made or offer any details at that time.

The two leaders met for about two hours during their summit in Helsinki with only translators present. It is still not clear what the two men discussed or agreed to during their meeting.

“The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation is ready for practical implementation of the agreements reached between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump in the sphere of international security achieved at the Helsinki summit,” Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a Russian military spokesman, said that day.

According to Konashenkov, the Russian military “is ready to intensify contacts with the US colleagues in the General Staff and other available channels to discuss the extension of the START treaty, cooperation in Syria, as well as other issues of ensuring military security.”

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