Stoltenberg: NATO Weighing First Negotiations with Russia in 2 Years

Stoltenberg: NATO Weighing First Negotiations with Russia in 2 Years
Thu Jan 28, 2016 19:33:50

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the western military alliance is discussing whether to hold first formal negotiations with Russia after ties between the two sides strained in 2014.

“We are looking into the possibility of holding a NATO-Russia Council (NRC) meeting,” Stoltenberg told a press conference in the Belgian capital city of Brussels on Thursday, adding that the time is ripe for such an event.


NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

“No final decision has been taken but we will also discuss that with the Russian delegation at NATO and then make a final decision on when to have such a meeting,” the NATO chief further said.

Stoltenberg did not elaborate on the timing of a possible NRC meeting, but it is widely expected to take place late next month after a meeting of NATO defense ministers, or in early March. The last NRC meeting was held in June 2014.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Stoltenberg noted that NATO and Moscow needed transparency to avoid misunderstandings and incidents such as the recent downing of a Russian fighter jet on the Syrian soil by Turkey, a NATO member state.

On November 24, 2015, Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24M Fencer aircraft with two pilots aboard, claiming the fighter jet had repeatedly violated the Turkish airspace.

Moscow, however, dismissed Ankara’s claims, stressing that the plane was brought down in Syrian airspace, where Russia has been conducting operations against Takfiri terrorists since late September last year upon a request by the Damascus government.

Reacting Stoltenberg’s comments, Russia’s Federation Council Deputy Speaker Ilyas Umakhano welcomed the initiative for a NATO meeting with Moscow.

Relations between Russia and NATO specially soured after Crimea separated from Ukraine and rejoined the Russian Federation following a referendum in March 2014.

The military alliance ended all practical cooperation with Russia over the ensuing crisis in Ukraine in April 2014.

The United States and its European allies accuse Moscow of destabilizing Ukraine and have imposed a number of sanctions against Russian and pro-Russia figures. Moscow, however, rejects having a hand in the Ukrainian crisis.

Russia has repeatedly slammed NATO’s military buildup near its borders, saying such a move poses a threat to both regional and international peace, Press TV reported.


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