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EU: Summit Strengthens Ties With Russia On Defense, Foreign Policy

Brussels, 3 October 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The European Union and Russia have agreed to increase cooperation on political and security issues. Speaking after a Russia-EU summit today in Brussels, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt announced that Russia and the EU have agreed to hold monthly consultations on foreign and defense policy.

Although the summit centered on the fight against international terrorism, its most important long-term effect may turn out to be the decision to create what EU leaders term "structured consultations" between Russia and the EU.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the creation of a "common European security space" is urgent in the aftermath of the 11 September terrorist attacks.

Putin called for "an entirely new look" at NATO enlargement, saying that the alliance is becoming more of a political organization. He said Moscow may ease its opposition to NATO's eastward expansion if Russia is more fully involved in consultations.

For more on this topic, see Russia/EU: Summit Ends With Vows To Cooperate On Defense, Foreign Policy, Russia: Will War On Terrorism Boost Russia's Chances Of Joining NATO?, and EU: In Summit Talks Putin To Focus On International Terrorism