Friday, May 29, 2009

NATO, Russia want foreign ministers meeting

BRUSSELS (AP) — Political ties between NATO and Russia are gradually improving following the break caused by the Russo-Georgian war, but a ministerial meeting is needed to pave the way for military cooperation, officials said Wednesday.

NATO deputy spokeswoman Carmen Romero said that ambassadors from NATO's 28 nations and Russia's envoy to the alliance were determined to hold a meeting of foreign ministers "as soon as logistically possible."

The ambassadors met on Wednesday within the framework of the NATO-Russia Council, a panel set up to improve cooperation between the former Cold War foes.

Russia's NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin described the meeting as constructive and forward-looking. "Discussions were focused on giving new stimulus and quality to our joint work," he said.

Moscow and NATO have sought in recent months to improve ties that were frozen after Russia's war with Georgia last August.

A meeting of foreign ministers had been scheduled in April, but tensions soared again over the expulsion of two Russian diplomats for alleged spying and the retaliatory move by Moscow which expelled two NATO officials. Moscow also strongly objected to a NATO military exercise in Georgia, and the planned ministerial talks were called off.

Rogozin said that although both sides were now determined to move forward on issues where they had shared interests — such as Afghanistan, anti-piracy efforts and disarmament — the meeting of foreign ministers was needed to endorse any formal military-to-military cooperation between Russia and NATO.

Russia has allowed NATO nations to use its road and rail networks to transport military supplies to Afghanistan, after the alliance's main supply chain through Pakistan came under repeated attack by pro-Taliban guerrillas.

Although the main transport line has not been cut, NATO commanders say they need alternate routes to ensure that logistical supplies will continue to flow through uninterrupted.

1 comment:

Boyan said...

During a public lecture in Bulgaria of the Russian Ambassador, I asked him ("inspired" by Sikorski and Passy) if we can see one day Russia as a member of the alliance. His answer was - "to never say never."