US Ambassador: America Wants to Collaborate with Russia in Establishing NATO Rapid Reaction Force

Alexander Vershbow, the US Ambassador to Russia, is in favour of collaboration with Russia in establishing a NATO rapid reaction force. According to Rosbalt's correspondent, the ambassador made this announcement today at the 'Russia-NATO: Prospects for Cooperation after the Prague Summit' conference. Vershbow said that discussions on this subject, as well as discussions on the possibility of creating a universal missile defence system, are included in future plans for the work of the Russia-NATO Council. The ambassador also believes that it is essential to examine the possibility of cooperating with Russia over modernisation of the alliance's armed forces.

'The Russia-NATO Council is not a debating club: its effectiveness will be determined by concrete actions,' stressed Vershbow. As examples of real results of cooperation, the ambassador named the collaborative work of Russian and NATO experts in evaluating the risk from al-Qaida, and the preparation of a framework agreement on sea rescue operations, which is planned to be signed in January 2003. 'Those things which divided us in the past must give way to new realities,' said the ambassador. He noted that NATO is preparing to issue a multifold response to terrorism, and said that this would account for a significant part of the work of the Russia-NATO Council.

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