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Tuesday, 14 May, 2002, 19:25 GMT 20:25 UK
Russia's new role
Nato ministers meet in Iceland
Russia is coming to the Nato table
test hello test
By Jonathan Marcus
BBC defence correspondent in Reykjavik
line

This is a new beginning for Nato and Russia.

Previous efforts at establishing a framework for joint action foundered on the rocks of lingering suspicion and genuine differences over issues like the crisis in the Balkans.

But the attacks on the United States on 11 September have put Russia and the Nato governments on converging courses.

The aim now is to capitalise on this new, more positive mood.

The new Nato-Russia council will meet every month, with four ministerial level meetings each year.

It has a detailed work programme covering areas including the struggle against terrorism, halting weapons proliferation, and theatre missile defence.

Clearly, Nato itself will continue to discuss many of these issues on its own.

The novelty of the new council is that it is intended to do practical things.

Real decisions

An initial study will look at the terrorist threat to peacekeeping forces in the Balkans, where Russian troops serve alongside many other Nato and non-Nato countries.

With the new council focused on practical matters, the hope is that it can take real decisions on real issues.

Its success now depends on how much political capital is invested in the new body.

One veteran Nato official has noted that if the new council achieves little, it could actually sour ties between the alliance and Moscow.

See also:

14 May 02 | World
Analysis: Nato's drive to adapt
14 May 02 | World
Q&A: The death of the Cold War
13 May 02 | World
Russia and US agree arms cuts
15 Oct 01 | Country profiles
Quick guide: Nato
01 May 02 | Country profiles
Timeline: Nato
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