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NATO Ministers To Discuss Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia


Foreign ministers from NATO member states are gathered for two days of meetings at the alliance's headquarters in Belgium that are expected to focus on the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as relations with Russia.

The meetings come amid heightened tensions with Pakistan after an air strike by NATO planes near the Afghan border last month killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

The ministers are also expected to discuss the aftermath of this week's international meeting in Bonn on the future of Afghanistan, including the progress of moves to transfer security responsibilities to Afghan forces in 2014 and the alliance's mission in Kosovo following recent violence with minority Serbs that left 50 NATO troops injured.

On December 8, the NATO ministers will be joined by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council. That meeting is expected to focus on Russian concerns about the planned deployment of a NATO missile-defense system in Europe.

'New Arms Race' Warning

The chief of staff of the Russian armed forces meanwhile said as NATO ministers were preparing to gather that Russia was being pushed into a new arms race by the planned deployment of a NATO European missile-defense system.

General Nikolai Makarov, speaking at a meeting with foreign military attaches warned of a possible "sharp deterioration" of relations.

"The very idea of creating a missile-defense system can definitely bring about a sharp deterioration in our relations," Makarov said.

The NATO meeting also comes one day after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized Russia's parliamentary elections, citing allegations of fraud.

Protests in many Russian cities are continuing.

compiled from agency and RFE/RL reports
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