Putin to attend next NATO summit

Other News Materials 12 February 2008 20:15 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Russian President Vladimir Putin accepted an invitation to take part in an upcoming NATO summit in Romania in April, news agency Interfax reported on Tuesday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov informed journalists of Putin's decision after a speech at the 65-member Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

Echoing comments made by Putin last week, Lavrov also warned against the West against provoking a "new arms race" but went one step further proposing a multilateral agreement controlling arms in space.

"Weapons deployment in space by one "country) will inevitably result in a chain reaction, which is pregnant for a new spiral in the arms race both in space and on Earth," Lavrov said.

Russia accused NATO of ignoring its security concerns with regard to US plans for a missile defence shield and the organizations own expansion into to Eastern Europe.

Russia has battled hard against the US missile defence plans, which evolved under the current US administration's neoconservative advisors from plans for a so-called Star Wars defence shield conceived in the 1980s.

Lavrov cautioned that the earlier arms race had engendered the Cold War "that lasted four decades and resulted in a gigantic waste of material and other resources at the expense of development."

The United States claims it need the missile system to defend against rogue states such as Iran, but Lavrov called the US plans "excessive."

The Foreign Minister underlined that Putin's decision to meet with the leaders of 26 NATO member states for a two-day summit on the 2 April in Bucharest, showed proof of Russia's willingness to dialogue.

"We will do our utmost to continue talks and seek arrangements for the ... the prevention of ensuring one's security at the expense of others," Lavrov said.

The summit of the heads of state and government of the 26 NATO members to take place from April 2- 4 in Bucharest is to cover among other things the possible entry into the defence organization of Ukraine and Georgia.

Russia has repeatedly stressed that the entry of the two former Soviet republics into the alliance would be interpreted as a threat to Russian security.