NATO, Russia planning for Lisbon summitSeptember 22nd, 2010 - 8:00 am ICT by IANS
Washington, Sep 22 (DPA) Representatives of the NATO-Russia Council are to set the stage Wednesday for a summit in Lisbon later this year that will include Russia, the US ambassador to NATO said.
NATO and Russian foreign ministers are to meet informally in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to seek “agreement that the NRC is a place where we can do business,” US ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder told reporters Tuesday in Washington.
Until his announcement, it had not been clear whether NATO’s 28 countries would include Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in the invitation to the Lisbon summit in November.
The top item on the November agenda is a new long-term strategy for the alliance, which has been in a deadlock with Russia over military and security cooperation over the last 20 months.
The NRC was created in 2002 to handle joint security projects such as fighting terrorism. Relations cooled over US proposals to build a missile defence system in Eastern Europe that Russia saw as a threat to its security.
Since US President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, the US has made efforts to reset its relations with Russia. Daalder said it was time to move those improved relations “into multilateral relations” within the NATO-Russia Council.
Daalder said that Wednesday’s meeting in New York will “hopefully set the stage” for the summit, which is to include Obama and Mevedev for the first time. The two leaders struck a friendly tone when they met earlier this year in Washington and agreed to a New START treaty on nuclear arms.
“We don’t think Russia is an adversary,” Daalder said.
Last week, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stressed the need for closer cooperation with Russia, focusing on an “inclusive” missile-defence system, conventional armaments controls and a reduction in short-range nuclear weapons.
Rasmussen noted worrisome developments, such as the recent Russian decision to move missiles into Georgia. On the positive side, Rasmussen said cooperation had been achieved with Russia in combating terrorism and noted Moscow’s “support” for NATO’s mission in Afghanistan.
Russia now allows the US to transport both lethal and non-lethal material across its territory to support NATO troops in Afghanistan, and NATO may transport non-lethal materials, Daalder noted.
NATO and Russia have been jointly training Afghans as counter-narcotics agents to stem the flow of heroin out of Afghanistan. About 21 percent of the production ends up in Russia, where up to 30,000 people die annually from heroin overdoses, Russia has said.
NATO is seeking Russian donations of MI-17 transport helicopters and training of Afghan pilots and mechanics for use in Afghanistan. The US military already uses dozens of the Russian aircraft, which are valued for their historic deployment in Afghanistan and familiarity to Afghan pilots and mechanics.
Daalder acknowledged disagreement between NATO and Russia over some issues, such as Georgia, but said there were disagreements sometimes among NATO members, too. “The good thing is we have a forum to talk about it,” he said.
Asked about the possibility of Russia joining NATO, Daalder said that Russia met at least one qualification of being a European country. It was up to Russia to decide whether to apply, and for NATO to decide whether Russia met its other standards.
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Tags: anders fogh rasmussen, armaments, barack obama, cooperation with russia, dmitry medvedev, fighting terrorism, foreign ministers, ivo daalder, lisbon summit, missile defence system, multilateral relations, nato russia, nato secretary general, nuclear weapons, russian president, security cooperation, security projects, summit washington, term strategy, un general assembly