Titel:NATO agrees to restart direct talks with Russia
BRUSSELS, March 5 (Xinhua) -- NATO foreign ministers agreed on Thursday to resume formal political contacts with Russia after they were frozen for seven months, said NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.
"Ministers reached agreement to formally resume the NATO-Russia Council, including at ministerial level, as soon as possible after the (NATO) summit in Strasbourg and Kehl (on April 3)," de Hoop Scheffer told reporters.
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer attends a press conference after the informal meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in Brussels, Belgium, March 5, 2009. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said here on Thursday that foreign ministers from the military alliance's 26 members have agreed to resume direct talks with Russia after the NATO summit in early April. (Xinhua/Wu Wei) Photo Gallery>>>
Technically, the foreign ministers' decision means that ambassadorial-level formal meetings of the NATO-Russia Council, a mechanism for political dialogue, can resume immediately.
NATO foreign ministers suspended the council in August 2008 shortly after the military conflict between Russia and Georgia. But the council met informally once this year after NATO countries agreed in December 2008 to gradually re-engage Russia informally.
De Hoop Scheffer said Thursday that the resumption of formal contacts with Russia does not mean that NATO has changed its position on Russia's behavior, particularly in Georgia.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C Front), British Foreign Secretary David Miliband (1st R Front), NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (1st L Front), Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini (R C) attend an official photocall after the Informal Meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in Brussels, capital of Belgium, March 5, 2009. Foreign ministers from the 26-member NATO opened their informal talks on Thursday, with the situation in Afghanistan and NATO-Russia ties high on the agenda. (Xinhua/Wu Wei) Photo Gallery>>>
"If we resume the NATO-Russia Council ... we will urge Russia to meet fully its commitments with respect to Georgia," he said. NATO will also ask Russia to withdraw from areas, where Moscow has committed to leave, he added.
The NATO chief said the alliance is still opposed to Russia's recognition of Georgia's two breakaway regions -- Abkhazia and South Ossetia -- as independent states, and Moscow's intention to build military bases in these territories.
But he stressed that the two sides should discuss these issues, even when they fundamentally disagree. "The NATO-Russia Council is certainly not a fair-weather body and the weather is not fair for the moment."
He said NATO and Russia need cooperation in Afghanistan, the fight against terrorism and the prevention of the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
"Russia is an important player; Russia is a global player. Not talking to them is not an option," said de Hoop Scheffer.
NATO foreign ministers also discussed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's proposals on a European security architecture.
De Hoop Scheffer said both NATO allies and Russia have willingness to discuss this issue within the framework of the NATO-Russia Council although the primary forum is the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
However, NATO needs more details of Medvedev's proposals, he said.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (Front) and Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini (R) attend an official photocall after the Informal Meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in Brussels, capital of Belgium, March 5, 2009. Foreign ministers from the 26-member NATO opened their informal talks on Thursday, with the situation in Afghanistan and NATO-Russia ties high on the agenda. (Xinhua/Wu Wei) Photo Gallery>>>
BRUSSELS, March 5 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday voiced her strong support for reenergizing NATO-Russia formal talks, and underlined the principle of seeking close cooperation on issues where are common interests while acknowledging differences.
"There are benefits to reenergize the NATO-Russia Council, just as there are potential benefits in discussion that I will begin with (Russian Foreign Minister Sergei) Lavrov tomorrow in Geneva tomorrow," said Clinton at a press conference at the conclusion of the NATO foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels. Full story
BRUSSELS, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Foreign ministers from the 26-member NATO opened their informal talks on Thursday and discussed the situation in Afghanistan and NATO-Russia ties, which were high on their agenda.
"We need to reflect on a positive agenda that benefits the importance of NATO to Russia, to European and indeed global security," said NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in his opening remarks at a session of the NATO's decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council (NAC). Full story
MOSCOW, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- Russia is willing to expand assistance to NATO in delivering non-military cargo to the alliance's troops in Afghanistan if bilateral ties return to normal, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said here on Wednesday.
"Our agreements with NATO allowed for non-military transits, and the United States received our consent just a couple of days ago to invoke this agreement to deliver its cargo for the international security forces ... and further steps are also possible," Lavrov said after a meeting with an EU delegation. Full story