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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 May, 2003, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Nato salutes ties with Russia
Nato Secretary-General Lord Robertson
Warm words from Robertson at Nato-Russia session

Nato and Russia need each other "more than ever", Nato Secretary-General General George Robertson has told a meeting of the Russia-Nato Council in Moscow.

The meeting marks the first anniversary of the creation of the body which Russia hopes will consolidate its ties with the Atlantic Alliance.

Lord Robertson noted that during its first year the council had achieved "important practical results" as well as making "important political commitments", in particular in Afghanistan.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov noted that holding the Russia-Nato Council meeting in Moscow was "a new proof of our determination to face threats together".

The objective should be to "achieve a security architecture of the Euro-Atlantic type", he said.

However, he stressed the Russian view that the United Nations should have the central role in ensuring world security.

The council was set up to give Moscow a voice in decisions by Nato, which is set to expand to include seven ex-communist states next year.

Joint operations

But Russia remains staunchly opposed to Nato's eastward expansion plans.

A Russian foreign ministry spokesman, quoted by the Interfax news agency, said the organisation's enlargement was "not the road on which the problem of security in the Euro-Atlantic can be resolved".

The Nato-Russia Council was created in May 2002 in Rome, and has previously always met at ambassador level in Brussels.

The current talks are expected to pave the way for a meeting of foreign ministers in Madrid next month.

Lord Robertson said on arrival in Moscow that the meeting would also give the council an opportunity to exchange views on current security issues, including the situation in Afghanistan and Bosnia, where Russia participates in the peacekeeping operation.

Quick guide: Nato
12 May 03  |  Country profiles

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