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NATO: Russian Officials Praise New Cooperation With Alliance

Moscow, 13 May 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Top NATO and Russian officials meeting today in Moscow praised the spirit of cooperation between Russia and the Western alliance. NATO Secretary-General George Robertson opened the ambassadorial-level meeting of the one-year-old NATO-Russia Council. He said NATO and Russia need each other now more than at any time in the past.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov agreed. He told the group that cooperation on security in Europe is especially relevant in the world now.

"For the first time, the 20 [19 NATO member states and Russia] have met in Moscow and in that we see another confirmation of our readiness to work together to try to solve problems of security in the Euro-Atlantic region. This task is especially relevant now, when there is a need for a consolidated effort from all countries in order to create a security architecture that will ensure peace and stability in the face of new threats and challenges," Ivanov said.

Despite the mutual praise, Russian officials also reiterated long-standing concerns about the possible deployment of alliance forces in new NATO member states adjacent to Russia.

The NATO-Russia Council was set up to give Moscow a voice in decisions by the 19-member bloc, which is preparing to include seven ex-communist states next year.