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Rumsfeld to Meet With Russian Counterpart to Discuss North Korea

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld will travel to Alaska this weekend and meet with his Russian counterpart to discuss North Korea's nuclear program and other issues.

Pentagon spokesman Eric Ruff said Thursday that Rumsfeld and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov also will probably talk about the troubled Middle East and the continued development of a military relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

Rumsfeld's meeting with Ivanov, scheduled for Sunday, is part of a four-day trip during which he will visit privately with family members of an Alaska-based brigade that was recently ordered to extend its one-year tour in Iraq for four months to help tamp down violence in Baghdad.

CountryWatch: North Korea

"The 172nd has done some great work in Iraq and they have another important mission," said Ruff. "The secretary understands there is some natural disappointment among some of the family members, and he intends to visit with them and thank them for their support and that of their spouses who are serving in Iraq."

The Stryker Brigade had been serving in northern Iraq but was moved to Baghdad, where sectarian violence had escalated between Shiite and the Sunni extremists.

Rumsfeld is also planning stops in Utah and Nevada to give speeches.

The discussions with Ivanov come less than a week after President Bush spoke with Chinese President Hu Jintao about how to persuade North Korea to return to deadlocked international talks on its nuclear weapons program.