Lithuania urges NATO to delay Russia talks
Lithuania on Thursday urged NATO members not to take a snap decision to re-start formal talks with Russia, instead leaving such a move to a NATO summit in April, diplomats said.
"I think it's a bit premature to open formal dialogue. I think we have to use this time before the summit and encourage Russia to be more cooperative on all the various questions which are a part of NATO security agenda," Lithuanian Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas said as he entered a meeting with NATO counterparts in Brussels, reported dpa.
The comments came as some of NATO's most powerful members - the United States, Britain, Germany, France and Italy - called for an immediate decision to restart talks, which the alliance froze in August in protest at Russia's invasion of Georgia.
"I think it is important that NATO move to reestablish the NATO-Russia Council (NRC). I think that gives us an opportunity to put our concerns directly to the Russians," British Foreign Minister David Miliband said.
Thursday's meeting came as Georgian officials accused Russia of repeatedly violating the country's airspace, in a sign of the continued tensions in the region.
NATO foreign ministers decided to suspend meetings of the NRC - the usual format for talks with Russia - on August 19 as a sign that there could be "no business as usual" with Moscow.
But most members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization now say that it is time for the alliance to re-engage with Russia over issues such as Afghanistan and Iran.
NATO leaders are set to meet in the French city of Strasbourg and its German neighbour Kehl on April 3-4.