WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has dropped plans to join President Bush at a NATO summit this month in Latvia, in light of his announced resignation, a Rumsfeld spokesman said Monday.
Eric Ruff, the Pentagon press secretary, said the deputy secretary of defense, Gordon England, might represent the Pentagon in Rumsfeld's place. Rumsfeld held a series of meetings at the Pentagon in recent weeks with his counterparts from NATO countries, in preparation for the summit meeting, but now that he is leaving office he has canceled plans to meet here with German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung, Ruff said.
The NATO summit is Nov. 28-29 in the Latvian capital of Riga.
Ruff reaffirmed that Rumsfeld plans to remain at the Pentagon until his successor is confirmed by the Senate. Bush last week announced that he is nominating former CIA director Robert M. Gates to replace Rumsfeld, but no confirmation hearing date has been announced. Ruff said it could happen as early as the week of Dec. 4.
The Pentagon has refused to release the letter of resignation that Rumsfeld submitted to Bush.
Ruff said Gates and Rumsfeld might have a discussion later this week about the coming transition, but he had no specifics.