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13 June 2003

The NATO-Russia Council met in Defence Ministerial session in Brussels on 13June. As Defence Ministers, we welcomed the significant NRC contribution to Euro-Atlantic security, and the progress achieved in implementing the objectives set by our Heads of State and Government at their Rome Summit a year ago. We fully associated ourselves with the statement made by our Foreign Minister colleagues at their meeting earlier this month in Madrid, particularly where this dealt with the progress of cooperation related to military-to-military matters, defence reform, crisis management and defence against terrorism. Our meeting concentrated on addressing the future direction of our cooperation in these areas.

We recalled our joint commitment to strengthening our military-to-military cooperation. We look forward to a substantial Exercise and Training Programme building on a conceptual framework approved by our Chiefs of Defence Staff, on 13 May 2003. With an eye toward implementation of this programme and other cooperative activities foreseen in the Rome Declaration, Russia proposed to establish, in accordance with the Founding Act, a Military Liaison Mission at SHAPE. We agreed on the need to conclude a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), in the framework of Partnership for Peace, to facilitate and strengthen military cooperation.

On cooperation against terrorism, we agreed that our future work should concentrate increasingly on practical aspects, including in facilitating rapid cooperation as necessary in response to future terrorist incidents. We also invited the NATO-Russia Council at Ambassadorial level to organise a further conference at senior level to address progress.

On defence reform, similarly, we believe the time has come to move to more practical cooperation. For example, measures should be developed to enhance transparency in defence planning and military transformation, and to expand personnel exchanges. We also called for further exchanges on the financial and budgetary aspects of defence reform and encouraged further practical work on military-technical cooperation. We look forward to the full implementation of the 2003 work programme with a view to maintaining an adequate balance between workshops/seminars and concrete projects.

We took note of Russia's decision, in light of the continuing success of SFOR and KFOR in bringing peace and stability to the Balkans, to withdraw its military forces from these operations, and paid tribute to their significant contribution in crisis management. We also recalled the significant interoperability benefits of our operational cooperation in the Balkans and the mutual confidence which had grown up between our forces as a result. We agreed to invite the NATO-Russia Council in Ambassadorial session to consider ways of ensuring that the interoperability lessons learned in the Balkans are captured and the benefits preserved.

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