Winter Session Of Northatlantic Council

The winter session of the Northatlantic Council and the conference at the level of Ministers of Defence, timed to it, are opening in Brussels on Tuesday. According to a high-placed diplomat from the Northatlantic alliance, these conferences will be dominated by speeches of US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He will report on the situation with nuclear weapons, as well as on the results of the meeting of the US and Russian presidents. Besides that, the Military Planning Committee will discuss the defence plans and the course of the implementation of the NATO "initiative of defence possibilities". The theme of the withdrawal of the USA from the ABM Treaty of 1972 will also be touched upon in Rumsfeld's speeches and will find reflection in the final communique, the diplomat said. The head of the US military agency will inform his counterparts of the course of the antiterrorist operation in Afghanistan. Minister of Defence of Belgium Andre Flahaut will report on the European defence policy. A meeting of the Russia-NATO Permanent Joint Council (PJC) at the level of the Ministers of Defence will be held in the afternoon. Head of the Russian military agency Sergei Ivanov who arrived in Brussels on the day before will take part in it. The NATO representative stressed that the main content of this meeting is "discussion of the new quality of the alliance's relations with Russia". He noted that it is still necessary to specify what can form part of the competence of the future Twenty and what questions will remain exclusively a prerogative of 19 countries. In his opinion, a considerable part of the work on new relations between NATO and Russia will lie on the Ministers of Defence. The representative of the alliance expressed hope that an exchange of letters on opening a liaison military mission of NATO in Moscow will take place at the PJC meeting. Upon his arrival in Brussels on Monday night Sergei Ivanov said in answer to a RIA Novosti question that struggle against terrorism and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction are the main tasks in new relations of Russia with NATO. According to him, the matter concerns "the new threats and challenges which practically the whole world is speaking of". A meeting of the NATO-Ukraine commission will be held in the morning on Wednesday, and then the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) at the level of Ministers of Defence will meet. Sergei Ivanov will also participate in the EAPC meeting. A bilateral programme within the framework of the visit to Belgium also figures in Ivanov's plans for Wednesday.