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Kerry: NATO is not a threat to Russia, should bolster cooperation against 'IS'

Top US diplomat John Kerry has said Russia should be a partner, not an enemy in the fight against "Islamic State." He added that NATO presents no threat to Moscow in light of an invitation to Montenegro to join the bloc.

US Secretary of State John Kerry urged NATO allies to step up their presence in the fight against "Islamic State" (IS) terrorists on Wednesday at a meeting of 28 foreign ministers from the bloc in Brussels.

While a number of European nations,

such as Germany and Britain, have looked to boosting their participation in the campaign following the Paris attacks, many have opted not to engage in such direct ways as reconnaissance missions and airstrikes.

"I called on every NATO ally to step up support in the fight against Daesh (IS), striking at the organization's core in Syria and Iraq," Kerry told the group. He then singled out Britain for praise as the link:18887509:UK parliament debated whether to join# the bombing operations, saying "we are very pleased with efforts by Prime Minister Cameron."

"It is a very important step. We applaud his leadership."

Kerry urges Russia cooperation

Kerry also encouraged Russia to cooperate with NATO in the anti-IS campaign. "We welcome Russia's engagement in the Syria process," Kerry said, in spite of two recent diplomatic tussles that have estranged the Kremlin from the defensive alliance even further.

The first incident that complicated relations with Moscow occurred when a Russian warplane flying near its border with Syria was shot down by NATO member Turkey. Then, on Wednesday, the alliance extended

an invitation to Montenegro to begin ascension talks

- a move Moscow sees as a threat to its sphere of influence.

NATO is not a threat to anyone...it is a defensive alliance; it is simply meant to provide security," Kerry told a press conference in response to Moscow's concerns. "It is not focused on Russia or anyone else."

Montenegro, which in 1999 was on the receiving end of a wave of NATO airstrikes triggered by Serbia's brutal crackdown on independence-minded Kosovo Albanians, would be the first nation to join the bloc since 2009.

es/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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