Rasmussen: We're on solid path to improve NATO-Russia relations
Russia and NATO were "truly on a solid path to improve relations," the chief of the 28-member security alliance, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said Wednesday, dpa reported.
At a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC), which was attended by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Rasmussen said the proposed summit between Russia and NATO would strengthen their strategic partnership.
"The future of Russia lies in cooperation with the European Union and NATO," Rasmussen told reporters after the meeting. "It makes sense from an economic point of view and security point of view."
Although disagreements persist, the NATO chief said what has changed in the last 12-14 months was that there was now a "collective will to reach the full potential of cooperation between Russia and the NATO countries."
The November summit would take place in Lisbon, Portugal. The NRC was created in 2002 to improve ties between Russia and the North Atlantic security alliance.
While relations soured after the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia, and US proposals to build a missile-defence system in Eastern Europe that Russia saw as a threat to its security, the atmosphere has steadily improved since the United States announced a "reset" of its ties with Russia.
The NATO secretary general spoke of "three tracks" that would improve security in Europe: missile defence, conventional arms control and reducing the number of short-range nuclear weapons in the region.
Rasmussen said ministers at the NRC meeting discussed concrete steps on stepping up their joint support for Afghanistan and the fights against narcotics, terrorism and piracy on the seas.
They discussed how to continue to build security within Europe, both in missile defence and conventional arms control. The latter was a subject of "ongoing discussions in Vienna ... even if there are the areas of Georgia and Moldova where we disagree."
Rasmussen said that from his point of view, they should work toward "cooperation on territorial missile defence." The NRC hasn't started detailed technical discussions on how to cooperate in the area of missile defence, but he added that within NATO they were considering expanding "theatre missile defence to territorial missile defence ... so as not only to protect troops but entire populations."