Russia hints coop in Afghanistan to improve NATO relations
Russia sees its relations with NATO improving and wants the military alliance to succeed in Afghanistan, Russia's NATO envoy Dmitry Ragozin said.
Russia sees its relations with NATO improving and wants the military alliance to succeed in Afghanistan, Russia's NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin said on Saturday.
Ambassadors from the 26-member alliance will meet in a joint council with Russia on Monday for the first time since NATO suspended the sessions in protest at what it called Russia's "disproportionate" use of force against Georgia last August.
"The ice is thawing. An informal meeting of the Russia-NATO council is a de-facto resumption of work," Rogozin told Echo Moskvy radio station.
He said there was no set agenda for the meeting, which, if successful, could be followed by a meeting of foreign ministers in early spring. He also ruled out a Russia-NATO summit taking place this year.
The NATO-Russia Council is the principal forum for cooperation between Moscow and the alliance.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday that Russia welcomed U.S. President Barack Obama's decision to review policy in Afghanistan and is ready to cooperate, including on supply routes for NATO forces.
NATO seeks another routes instead of Pakistan's Khyber Pass. Taliban fighters have been attacking trucks delivering goods to Western forces in Afghanistan to break the supply providing to "occupiers" in Afghanistan.
General David Petraeus, the U.S. commander running American operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, visited four ex-Soviet states near Afghanistan in the past few days to press for new transport routes for its troops.
The Soviet Union fought in Afghanistan for nearly 10 years, withdrawing its troops in 1989. Ragozin ruled out Russia sending troops to Afghanistan but said Russia needed to help NATO forces, acting on the U.N. mandate.
"We have been there and did not like it. But everything we can do to back the realisation of the U.N. Security Council's resolution ... we need to do," Rogozin said.
Reuters Last Mod: 24 Ocak 2009, 16:56