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Russia: Foreign Minister Discusses Deeper Cooperation With NATO

Brussels, 17 December 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov met in Brussels today with the 16 NATO foreign ministers in the second meeting of the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council at the level of Foreign Ministers to review just how far they have come and discuss further cooperation.

Primakov told reporters Russia and NATO "are actively discussing opportunities for cooperation in the joint establishment of a system of air defense -- we are ready for that."

NATO Secretary General Javier Solana says they also discussed launching a pilot project for joint use of satellites in dealing with disasters and other civil emergencies.

NATO and Russia "would like to construct an avenue for cooperation," said Solana. "How far we can work together will depend on our political will.

Solana and the NATO ministers approved a detailed work program for the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council for next year. The program is intended to enhance the security of NATO and Russia as well as that of all states in the Euro-Atlantic area through consultations and information exchange, measures to promote cooperation, transparency and confidence in the areas of strategy, defence policy and military doctrines, budgets and infrastructure development, disarmament and arms control and peacekeeping.

The program also covers Russia's participation in Partnership for Peace as well as cooperation in the scientific and environmental fields, civil emergency planning, the retraining of retired military personnel and aspects of defence conversion.

The NATO ministers welcomed the appointment of Russia's Senior Military Representative at NATO Headquarters and the beginning of regular meetings between NATO and Russian Military representatives, which will now be held monthly under the auspices of the Permanent Joint Council.

On the issue of a follow-on force for the NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR) in Bosnia, after its mandate expires in June, Primakov told reporters that as long as the international military presence continues in Bosnia, "Russia will be a part of it." When asked whether Russian peacekeeping troops would participate in NATO-led operations to detain indicted Bosnian war criminals, Primakov said that military force should only be used in extreme cases and in accord with all mandates

Primakov and the NATO ministers agreed to meet again at the ministerial level in Luxemburg, in May 1998.