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5 Mar, 2009 15:45

NATO and Moscow agree to resume ties

NATO foreign ministers have agreed at a meeting in Brussels to resume formal ties with Russia. Relations between Moscow and the alliance were suspended after Russia repelled Georgia's attack on South Ossetia last August.

NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer announced the decision at a media conference:

“The ministers reached an agreement to formally resume the NATO Russia Council, including at ministerial level, as soon as possible after the summit in Strasbourg and Kehl.

“There is strong agreement that the Russia-NATO Council is certainly not a fair weather body and that the weather is not yet fair,”he noted.

“Russia is an important player, Russia is a global player and that means that not talking to them is not an option,” Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has already hailed the decision taken in Brussels, calling it a 'triumph of common sense'.

Also, the alliance’s ministers have agreed to discuss a Russian proposal for a new European security system.

Russia's envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin says the alliance needs Moscow's help in providing support for its operations in Afghanistan:

“Now NATO has a lot of problems in Afghanistan and without Russian support in the case of transit of goods for ISAF troops in Afghanistan, nobody can say how this operation can finish. So, we have a lot of directions for our co-operation, for example fighting with terrorism, against drugs, etc. So, NATO has a lot of interest to reinstall co-operation with Russia.”

The NATO-Russia Council (NRC) was established in 2002 and became the main forum for the 26 alliance member states and Russia dialogue.

However, after the war in the Caucasus in August 2008, regular meetings of NRC were suspended. NATO then condemned Moscow for what it described as a disproportionate use of force against Georgia. The alliance then suspended all military co-operation programmes.