Russian, NATO defence ministers join Madrid statement of foreign ministers

After the session of the Russia-NATO Council held Friday in Brussels at the defence ministers' level, its participants adopted a joint statement welcoming "the significant contribution of the Russia-NATO Council to strengthening security in the Euro-Atlantic zone" and joining "the statement made by foreign ministers at their meeting in Madrid in early June".

They were referring mainly to the part of the Madrid statement that "pointed to the progress in military co-operation, military reform, crisis management and protection against terrorism," they emphasised.

Future directions of co-operation in these spheres were paid "special attention at the Russia-NATO Council's session at the defence ministers' level".

"We have announced joint commitment to strengthen our military co-operation. We await with interest the adoption of the informative Programme of troops exercise and training to expand conceptual frames endorsed by chiefs of general staff on May 13, 2003," the document reads.

In the sphere of co-operation for fighting terrorism, the ministers agreed to concentrate their future work mainly on "practical activities, including assistance to operational co-operation, necessary to take retaliatory measures on terrorists' actions in future".

In this connection the session's participants proposed to hold a conference on terrorism at ambassadors' level. "It is necessary to work out measures for more transparency in defence planning, change of military structure and expanded military exchange," they believe.

"In the context of continued successful actions to ensure peace and stability in the Balkans we took into consideration Russia's decision to withdraw its troops from the international peacekeeping forces and paid tribute to its significant contribution to the crisis settlement," the statement points out.

Among the results of Russia's participation in the Balkans peacekeeping forces, the ministers named "significant benefit for ensuring the compatibility of forces during co-operation in the Balkans and growth of mutual trust between Russian and NATO troops".

The experience of interaction received in the Balkans "should be secured and its achievements preserved", the session's participants believe.

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