Russian Defence Minister arrives in Portugal on routine visit

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov arrived in Portugal on a routine visit on Saturday. His plane landed at the transit airport Figo Maduro.

On leaving the USA, where Sergei Ivanov was on a three-day visit, he told Russian journalists that "counterparts from the Iberian Peninsula had invited him long ago" and this time he decided to accept the invitation.

According to the minister, there is another reason for his visits to Portugal and Spain. "I sit between the Portuguese and Spanish representatives in the NATO Council in the format of 20," Sergei Ivanov said.

It will be the first visit of the Russian Defence Minister to Portugal. Sergei Ivanov is scheduled to meet with President Jorge Sampaio, Prime Minister Durao Barroso and Defence Minister Pualo Portas.

They are expected to discuss the development of bilateral military cooperation within the framework of the agreement, signed in August 2000. The agreement implies the exchange of information and experience of military personnel training, joint search and rescue operations and coordination of peacekeeping actions within the OSCE and UN.

Sergei Ivanov's visit will precede the informal meeting between NATO defence ministers in Warsaw, therefore, the sides are expected to discuss the forthcoming structural changes in the alliance, with Portugal being its member.

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