Hagel and Shoygu discuss Syria, chemical weapons

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu conducted their inaugural video teleconference on Monday, during which they discussed chemical weapons in Syria.

According to Carl Woog, the Defense Department's assistant press secretary, Hagel and Shoygu discussed recent planning efforts to remove chemical weapons from Syria through the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Hagel encouraged Russia to stay engaged with the chemical weapons destruction process.

"Secretary Hagel provided Minister Shoygu with an update on U.S. planning to neutralize the chemical weapons once removed from Syria," Woog said. "Secretary Hagel encouraged Russia to stay engaged with the process and continue providing critical assistance to ensure that chemical weapons are removed on schedule."

Hagel and Shoygu also discussed missile defense, cybersecurity and countering improvised explosive devices. On missile defense, Hagel noted the P5+1 Joint Plan of Action does not stop the need for U.S. and European allies to keep implementing European missile defense plans. Hagel emphasized that U.S. and NATO missile defense plans are no threat to Russia.

Hagel and Shoygu previously agreed to hold the teleconference during an August U.S.-Russia 2+2 meeting in an effort to maintain defense cooperation and an open dialogue. Hagel and Shoygu agreed to hold regular video teleconferences and as needed if important issues come up.