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NATO/Russia: First Council Meeting Underway

New York, 26 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - The foreign ministers of Russia and 16 NATO countries are gathering today at the United Nations for the first-ever meeting of the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council. The Bosnian peacekeeping mission is expected to top the agenda.

The ministers also plan to discuss schedules and programs for future meetings. Council foreign ministers will meet twice a year, while ambassadors will hold council meetings every month.

The meeting will be chaired jointly by Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov and NATO Secretary General Javier Solana.

The council was established in May with the signing in Paris of the Founding Act, which is aimed at enhancing consultations between Russia and NATO on security issues. The council has so far held two meetings on the ambassadorial level.

The State Department says a final meeting originally scheduled for later today between Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov has been cancelled. A spokesman says the two talked again last night at a banquet, so there was no need for another formal session.

Albright is scheduled to have talks later today with Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano.

The meetings are taking place on the margins of the U.N.'s 52d annual General Assembly.