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Russia's upper house ratifies NATO SOFA treaty

RIA Novosti

25/05/2007 14:52 MOSCOW, May 25 (RIA Novosti) - The Federation Council, Russia's upper house of parliament, endorsed Friday an agreement among signatories to NATO and other states participating in the Partnership for Peace program regarding the status of their forces (SOFA).

Russia signed the 1995 agreement in April 2005. The document regulates the presence of foreign troops on its territory and guarantees the rights of Russian military personnel participating in joint military exercises as part of the Partnership for Peace program, among other provisions.

Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, ratified the document, which has been signed by 41 countries, earlier this week, stating that the document meets Russia's interests by ensuring efficient cooperation between parties to the agreement in the event of joint military exercises, rescue operations, and relief efforts.

Under the agreement, foreign troops would fall under the jurisdiction of the host state except in cases where a direct attack occurs against its personnel or property.

Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the State Duma International Affairs Committee, dismissed Monday allegations that Russia had been forced to ratify the agreement on "discriminatory conditions."

"All cooperation conditions for parties to the agreement are equal," Kosachev said, adding that ratification would provide a legal basis for effective joint efforts in dealing primarily with the consequences of natural disasters and industrial accidents.

He also said Russia planned to conduct about 200 joint exercises with other signatories to the agreement in 2008, and none of them were related to military cooperation.

Georgia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Azerbaijan are the other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States that have signed the NATO SOFA agreement.

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