A session of the North Atlantic Council on Thursday morning started the two-day series of conferences of NATO and partner countries' foreign ministers. NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson addressed the 19 foreign ministers in the outset of the North Atlantic Council session. He announced the forthcoming "new step in relations with Russia" aimed at achieving "a new level of cooperation". The September 11, Robertson thinks, revealed that "more things unite us than divide". According to him, the Friday conference with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov participating is a good opportunity to promote bilateral cooperation, building "more profound and specified" relations based on common interests. The North Atlantic Council session is taking place in a "crucial moment of the 21st century", Robertson said. He emphasized the Alliance's contribution to fighting terrorism following the September 11 terrorist assault when "terrorists attacked our citizens, our values." The NATO Secretary General stressed the significance of the anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan and accentuated the importance of "effective and long-term" fighting against terrorism.