NATO's chief called on Wednesday for closer cooperation with Moscow and alliance officials said Afghanistan was high on his agenda.
Relations were severely strained by last year's Georgia war between Moscow and Tbilisi and by the NATO's efforts to expand eastwards. NATO leaders declared in April 2008 that Ukraine and Georgia would one day join the alliance.
"Disagreements should not overshadow the fact that, basically, we share security interests in many areas because we are faced with the same threats," NATO boss Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
"Russia has offered land transit for non-lethal supplies going into Afghanistan, we certainly wish to discuss the full range of cooperation and that may include, at a certain stage, broadening the transit arrangement as well, for example, to include transit by air," said NATO spokesman James Appathurai.
Rasmussen, a former Danish prime minister, said his first visit to Russia since his appointment on Aug. 1 was to build a "true partnership" between NATO and Russia.
NATO and Russia expelled each others' diplomats earlier this year in a row that highlighted mutual suspicion.
No firm agreements were expected from Rasmussen's visit. NATO officials, who asked not to be identified, said they did not think the issue of expanding transit rights for NATO shipments to Afghanistan invasion would be the dominant theme.
Although some NATO members, such as the United States, have secured bilateral deals with Moscow, the alliance only has the right to send non-lethal supplies by land across Russia.
After his meeting with Lavrov, Rasmussen was due to meet both Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin later on Wednedsay.
Before arriving in Moscow, Rasmussen said NATO would seek equipment and trainers for Afghan forces.
Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan in 1979 to bolster communist allies, but got bogged down in a 10-year war with mujahideen insurgents in which some 15,000 Soviet troops and one million Afghans died -- an experience that has led Moscow to rule out sending its soldiers back there now.
Last Mod: 16 Aralık 2009, 12:50