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NATO/Russia: Officials Declare Council Meeting A Success

New York, 29 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russia and the United States have declared the inaugural meeting of the NATO-Russia Joint Permanent Council a success.

Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov told reporters in New York last week that the discussions were substantive and that there was no rhetoric.

NATO's 16 foreign ministers met Primakov at the United Nations for the first session of the council that was created to help ease Russian concerns about NATO's pending enlargement. The delegates talked about Bosnia and other peacekeeping missions.

A senior U.S. State Department official quoted Primakov as repeating Russia's negative view of enlargement. But the official also reported that Primakov said opposition did not mean Russia is unwilling to develop close ties with NATO and find points of agreement.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had said earlier that she did not expect Russia to "suddenly fall in love with NATO." But she did say she hopes and expects that Russia will come to see NATO as just another institution that can help Russia integrate into the European mainstream.

The senior State Department official said members of the council spent a lot of time discussing Bosnia. He said that on all fundamental issues there was unanimity, but that there were what he called nuances of difference between the U.S. and some NATO allies, as well as between the U.S. and Russia.

The official said Primakov stressed the need for the closest consultation with Russia on special actions in Bosnia such as the capture earlier this year of suspected war criminals at Prijedor.

There was also some difference on the issue of authorizing such operations. Primakov, and some Europeans, said all peacekeeping operations must have the blessing of the United Nations or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. However, the U.S. replied that NATO is not going to take orders from anyone, and that the peacekeepers in Bosnia are a NATO-led force.