Russia-NATO Council to Hold Session in Moscow

The Russia-NATO Council will hold its session in Moscow with the participation of the Alliance's Secretary General, George Robertson, Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov and defence minister Sergei Ivanov.

Spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry Alexander Yakovenko told RIA Novosti that George Robertson, who chairs the Council, is expected to make the political statement on the results of the session.

The participants in the session will discuss security issues in the Euroatlantic region, and analyse the results of collaboration in many directions stipulated by the Rome declaration. The NATO press service reported that participants in the session will also consider preparation for the forthcoming meeting of the Russia-NATO Council at the level of foreign ministers scheduled for June this year.

Moscow believes that the "current forum of the '2O' group of countries" will become a practical confirmation of the fact that Russia and NATO are establishing a truly new form of relations." The Russian foreign ministry also points out that a new mechanism of Russia-NATO cooperation already produces good results in the security sphere. In particular, an intensive dialogue is being conducted on the issues of combating terrorism, reaction to crises, and non-proliferation of mass destruction weapons. Promising cooperation programmes have been set into motion in the sphere of theatre anti-missile defence, search and rescue on sea, extraordinary civil planning, and coordination of air traffic.

Very important documents have been adopted in peacekeeping, in combating terrorism, and in ensuring border security in the Balkans. Military cooperation is being also developed. Agreements have been reached with the Alliance's units in specific fields of the joint activity, including in rescuing crews of damaged submarines and in compiling the armaments catalogues.

Nevertheless, there remain outstanding questions in Russia-NATO relations. Moscow believes that the Alliance should clarify its position concerning the legal basis of using force outside the limits of its countries' defence, in questions of humanitarian and other forms of intervention. The question related to clear and unambiguous guarantees that weapons and the armed forces of other countries will not be deployed in the Baltic states remains urgent. Moscow expects the Alliance to take specific actions to ratify the adapted CFE Treaty.

The Russian foreign ministry hopes that the holding of the Russia-NATO session in Moscow will become an important political event and will graphically demonstrate the mechanism of new relations between Moscow and the Alliance.

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