NATO to seek fresh talks with Russia ahead of alliance summit | News | DW | 20.05.2016
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NATO to seek fresh talks with Russia ahead of alliance summit

A "broad agreement" amongst NATO ministers has been reached to meet with Russia before the alliance's July summit. The talks will seek to avoid "misunderstandings" as NATO considers a military buildup.

Foreign ministers from NATO's 28-member alliance are willing to try a second meeting with Russia, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced on Friday.

"We have agreed on the message of dialogue and defense. ... based on that, there was broad agreement yesterday that NATO should convene a new meeting of the NATO-Russia Council before our next summit in July," he told reporters alongside European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

"We will now start to look at the modalities and practical arrangements," he added, as the foreign ministers from NATO states met for a second day in Brussels.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman quickly welcomed the announcement, but said Russian interests should be taken into account during the meeting.

"The Russian side has never avoided dialogue; we always have supported dialogue," spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"We believe it's the only way to tackle the problems we face. At the same time, a dialogue must be trusting and constructive and be based on respect of mutual interests. Otherwise it hardly can be productive."

Military build-up in Europe

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called the ministers' discussions "contentious" but said the meeting would possibly take place in June.

He added that the talks would serve to clear up misconceptions and brief each side on decisions that are being considered ahead of the alliance's July 8-9 summit in Warsaw, Poland.

A key component of the summit involves stationing more troops and military equipment in Poland and the Baltic states that border Russia - a move which Moscow says threatens their national security.

The NATO-Russia Council, which was founded in 2002, met for the first time in nearly two years last month. However, the meeting failed to smooth over differences between the US-led alliance and Russia after relations frayed due to Moscow's annexation of Crimea from the Ukraine in 2014.

rs/kl (AP, AFP, dpa)

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