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Europe

Alliance debates resuming formal ties with Russia

©

Video by Nicholas RUSHWORTH , Catherine VIETTE

Latest update : 2009-03-05

NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels agreed Thursday to resume high-level ties with Russia, which were suspended last summer after the Georgian crisis. Russian officials welcomed the decision.

AFP - NATO foreign ministers agreed Thursday to officially restart top-level talks with Russia, frozen after the Russia-Georgia war last August, alliance Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said.
   
"Ministers reached agreement to formally resume the NATO-Russia Council, including at ministerial level," Scheffer told reporters after chairing the talks in Brussels.
   
He gave no date or venue for the restart, but said it should happen "as soon as possible after the summit" to mark NATO's 60th anniversary on April 3-4.
   
Despite the move, Scheffer underlined: "We have quite a number of areas where we have fundamental differences of opinion and where we think Russia should change its opinion."
   
He pointed notably to Russia's widely condemned decision to recognise the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as well as its plans to set up bases there.
   
"We will urge Russia to meet fully its commitments with respect to Georgia."
   
In an effort to ease the concerns of Georgia and Ukraine, both striving to join NATO in the face of Russian objections, the ministers also met with Georgian and Ukrainian representatives.
   
In Moscow, the Russian foreign ministry welcomed the move.
   
"We note with satisfaction that good sense has prevailed within NATO," the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Igor Lyakin-Frolov, the ministry's deputy spokesman, as saying.
   
The official however expressed regret that the alliance had made the decision on a "unilateral" basis, saying: "This should be a joint decision made with Russia."

Date created : 2009-03-05

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