NATO, Russia test military ties after Georgia war
NATO and Russia resumed top level military contacts for the first time since the Georgia war, the final stage in a gradual normalisation of ties.
NATO and Russia resumed top level military contacts on Tuesday for the first time since the Georgia war, the final stage in a gradual normalisation of ties as the Western alliance seeks more Russian help in Afghanistan.
Russia's chief of the general staff, General Nikolai Makarov, met the head of NATO's military committee, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, in Brussels before broader talks with military chiefs from the 28 NATO states, Di Paola's spokesman said.
He declined to provided details of the discussions but NATO officials have said the agenda covered the possibility of cooperation on terrorism, on countering piracy off Africa and on the alliance's troubled mission in Afghanistan.
The meetings took place two days before a conference in London aimed at better coordinating international support for Afghanistan following an overhaul of strategy and operations in the 8-year war to regain the initiative from the Taliban.
Russia has said it will do all it can to help NATO in Afghanistan, short of sending troops to a country from which Soviet forces were forced to withdraw in 1989 after an unsuccessful 10-year war against Mujahideen insurgents.
NATO is keen to expand agreements on transit of supplies for Afghanistan via Russia and would like to see Russia providing more helicopters for the Afghan armed forces, as well as weaponry, including assault rifles and artillery.
The meeting of NATO states with Makarov was to be under the auspices of the NATO-Russia Council, a body set up in 2002 to promote cooperation between the former Cold War foes.
Ties between NATO and Russia were frozen after Moscow's August 2008 intervention in Georgia, a former Soviet republic that has been promised eventual NATO membership.
The two sides resumed formal cooperation on security issues with a ministerial meeting in the middle of last year, but Tuesday's meeting was the first top-level military dialogue since May 2008.
Reuters Last Mod: 27 Ocak 2010, 01:28