According to estimates by the Russian military top, all NATO member countries without exception expressed "genuine interest in promoting Russian proposals on European non-strategic anti-ballistic missile /ABM/ defence." The comment, made by a Russian Defence Ministry spokesman in a Saturday interview with RIA Novosti, summed up the exchange of opinions on Russia's Euro-ABM-related initiative, which took place in Brussels within the framework of a Russia-NATO Joint Standing Council session on April 26. According to the Russian military spokesman, official envoys from NATO member countries listened to detailed information on the Russian European ABM initiative, which was voiced by Marshal Igor Sergeyev, the Russian presidential aide on strategic stability issues. They asked him and General Leonid Ivashov, also present at the discussions, a number of questions. NATO officials received exhaustive answers to all their questions, which, the Russian side believes, "helped relieve the NATO partners of the feeling of misunderstanding and concern." The first stage of Euro-ABM-related work envisaged by the Russian initiative--joint assessment of potential and real missile risks and threats from any side--was the focus of the discussions. "Participants in the discussion agreed that the kickstart to practical implementation of Euro-ABM proposals might be given only if such threats are registered," said the Defence Ministry spokesman. He added that Marshal Sergeyev and General Ivashov spoke for the USA's and Canada's participation in the work as the two non-European NATO member countries. The NATO officials praised this proposal. The sides agreed that the time had come for experts both in Moscow and Brussels to start implementing the Russian proposals. The source noted that the report summing up the discussions on Russian Euro-ABM proposals at the Joint Standing Council session would soon be submitted to Russian President Vladimir Putin for consideration.
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