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NATO starting to 'reset' relations with Russia, envoy says

Brussels, 27 May: Russia's permanent representative at NATO, Dmitriy Rogozin, can see signs of positive changes in the alliance's position on relations with the Russian Federation.

"NATO has moved away from the spirit of confrontation and started to implement the joint decisions on 'resetting' our relations," Rogozin told journalists on Wednesday (27 May) after the latest meeting of the Russia-NATO Council at the level of ambassadors.

He stressed that he was satisfied with the meeting held on Wednesday.

According to Rogozin, a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council at the level of foreign ministers could be held in New York in September or even earlier. "We are talking months, not weeks here. The meeting has to have substance," he stressed. The meeting of the Russia-NATO Council at the level of foreign ministers could be held in September in New York, where they will convene for the UN General Assembly, "or maybe even earlier", the permanent representative said. The work to agree the precise date was launched at today's RNC (Russia-NATO Council) meeting," Rogozin stressed.

In his opinion, a meeting at the level of foreign ministers should take place before contacts at the military level. "We should give a signal to the military. They will not resume liaison until there is a political decision. This applies, among other things, to the new topic of cooperation, the fight against piracy, which some of our partners are actively pushing on to the agenda of the Russia-NATO Council. Only when military cooperation is restored shall we work on this problem too. One has to maintain the logic, the sequence of actions. An important step was taken today towards agreeing the date of the ministers' meeting," Rogozin said.

He revealed that several members of the Russia-NATO Council had suggested discussing the new strategic concept of Russia's national security. According to the permanent representative, the Russian side does not oppose the idea of organizing this discussion, but "in synch" with this, Russia would like to hear explanations about the "vector" of NATO's new draft strategic concept, the work on which had been launched at the NATO summit in Strasbourg and Kehl in April.

He noted in this connection that the document adopted by Russia's top political leadership does not see NATO as a threat to Russia's security; however, the process of NATO enlargement, the approach of its military structure to Russian borders may indeed pose a threat to Russia's security.

(Russia and NATO intend to turn the Russia-NATO Council into "a fast-response body to examine strategic security issues", Russian state news RIA Novosti quoted Rogozin saying. To achieve this, he said, they had to "rewrite the practice of political dialogue, which should be conducted on the equal and mutually respectful basis". The agency also quoted Rogozin as saying that "unpredictability and provocations should be avoided" in Russia's cooperation with NATO.

Meanwhile Russian state news agency ITAR-TASS quoted Rogozin as saying that North Koran nuclear tests had helped unblock the work on nonproliferation at the Russia-NATO Council. He said that most NATO member states showed a clear interest in "reviving the work of the nonproliferation group within the framework of the RNC".)