Yokohama, Japan (AFP) Nov 14, 2010
The US and Russian presidents on Sunday hailed improving ties between Moscow and NATO, days before President Dmitry Medvedev attends a summit with the Euro-Atlantic defence alliance.
The Russian leader is to join the Lisbon summit Friday, marking a thaw in relations with the alliance after the crisis caused by the war between Russia and the pro-Western ex-Soviet state of Georgia in 2008.
Medvedev, speaking after talks with US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of a Japan summit, said: "We stated the improvement of relations between Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization."
"And this is useful both to our countries and all parties involved," he said according to a White House transcript of their comments released later.
Obama also welcomed Medvedev's attendance at the Lisbon meeting, as he praised the "excellent relationship" between him and Medvedev, speaking after their meeting on the sidelines of a Pacific Rim summit in Yokohama.
"It allows us to restart the NATO-Russia Council and a host of consultations so that we can reduce tensions and increase cooperation on various security matters in the European theater," Obama said.
NATO's chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said this month that the summit would "bury the ghosts of the past" between the former Cold War enemies and show the Russian people that "NATO does not see Russia as an enemy".
Medvedev has long promoted what he thinks should be a common European security strategy uniting the continent that was long split between the West and the Soviet bloc.
France, Germany and other Western powers have agreed to discuss this, but also remain tied to the NATO vision of a Euro-Atlantic pact including the United States and Canada, with a NATO-Russia council attached to it.
In Lisbon, the NATO powers are due to unveil their new "strategic concept", the framework within which the allies intend to coordinate their defence and foreign policy goals.
One of the recent disputes that has cast a chill over the slowly warming relations has been that of missile defence: Moscow has fiercely opposed US plans to deploy an anti-missile system in eastern Europe.
Washington insists the missile shield is designed to fend off threats from rogue states like Iran and is not aimed at undermining Russia's missile force as a deterrent. It has now promised to modify its plans.
In Lisbon, NATO will discuss setting up a joint alliance missile shield and has invited Russia to take part in it. Medvedev has given a cautious welcome to this idea, but said Moscow needed to hear more details.
Previous US plans to deploy an anti-missile system in former Soviet satellite states in eastern Europe angered the Kremlin, despite Western assurances they were aimed at states like Iran.
earlier related report
"The planned new strategic concept in its current version meets the expectations and interests of Poland," Klich told a session of NATO's parliamentary assembly in Warsaw.
The assembly, which brings together 260 lawmakers from the 28-nation North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, gathers twice a year to debate security policy and international affairs.
The Warsaw meeting comes ahead of a summit of leaders of NATO nations on November 19 and 20 in the Portuguese capital Lisbon.
Participants in the five-day Warsaw session which began Friday are focusing on the new NATO strategy, which rethinks issues from disarmament and deterrence to cyber-security and counter-terrorism.
They are also scheduled to debate the NATO mission in Afghanistan, as well as the alliance's missile-defence plans which have angered Moscow.
Klich noted that the new strategy also reaffirmed the importance of NATO cooperation with Russia, which has been rocky since the end of the Cold War two decades ago. The alliance has riled Moscow by expanding behind the former Iron Curtain.
"We have good means for cooperation. We shouldn't change them. We should use them better," Klich said.
Poland broke from the crumbling communist bloc in 1989 and has become a key NATO player since joining in 1999.
Warsaw has long had difficult ties with Moscow, although this year has seen a thaw in the wake of an air disaster in Russia that claimed the lives of Poland's president Lech Kaczynski and 95 other Poles in April.
Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev is due in Lisbon during the NATO summit, for talks with his US opposite number Barack Obama.
Besides lawmakers from NATO states, dozens of deputies from non-member states are also taking part in the Warsaw assembly, mostly from would-be alliance members in the ex-communist bloc.
As at previous sessions, Russian lawmakers are also attending for closed-door talks with their NATO-member counterparts.
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Poland satisfied with NATO strategic rethink: minister
Warsaw, Poland (AFP) Nov 13, 2010
Poland is satisfied with NATO's strategic rethink, which alliance leaders are scheduled to sign off on at a summit next week, Defence Minister Bogan Klich said Saturday. "The planned new strategic concept in its current version meets the expectations and interests of Poland," Klich told a session of NATO's parliamentary assembly in Warsaw. The assembly, which brings together 260 lawmaker ... read more
Russia says open to missile defence cooperation with NATO|
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