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Russia to stay on course with NATO - official

RIA Novosti

30/05/2007 18:31 MOSCOW, May 30 (RIA Novosti) - Russia does not intend to scale down its cooperation with NATO, but is skeptical about the outlook for relations, a senior Russian diplomat said Wednesday.

Sergei Ryabkov, director of the Foreign Ministry Department for European Cooperation, said NATO in its present form is a partner that does not take Russian interests into account.

"We draw our own conclusions from that, and are not euphoric about prospects for relations. But do not intend to scale down cooperation, which is of benefit to us," he told a roundtable entitled Russia-NATO: Prospects for Cooperation, held Wednesday at RIA Novosti.

He said Russia would continue to cooperate with NATO on a pragmatic basis the way it sees fit.

Ryabkov said NATO's stance on the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty is one problem area in relations with the North Atlantic alliance, adding that the situation in which NATO member countries rely on the old version while ignoring an adapted treaty is unacceptable to Russia.

Russia has ratified the adapted CFE Treaty, which replaced an agreement reached at the end of the Cold War between NATO and the Eastern Bloc to curb the arms race, but of the countries that initially signed the pact, no NATO members have yet ratified it, demanding that Russia first withdraw from Soviet-era bases in Georgia and Moldova under the Istanbul Agreements.

President Vladimir Putin suggested recently that Moscow might suspend its obligations under the accord if talks with NATO countries show no visible progress in its implementation.

First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said earlier this month that Russia would no longer inform NATO states about movements of troops on its territory, as required by the CFE Treaty.

The original CFE Treaty, amended in 1999 in Istanbul in line with post-Cold War realities, has so far only been ratified by Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine.

Moscow has pointed out that NATO newcomers Slovakia and the three Baltic States have not joined the CFE treaty, despite their pledge to do so.

An emergency conference of signatories to the CFE Treaty will be held within the next 15 days, a Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tuesday.

As the designated Depositary for the Treaty, the Netherlands decides on the convocation of emergency conferences.

He said the conference, requested by Russia, would be chaired, on a rotation basis, by Luxembourg, adding that the final date and venue have yet to be established.

Russia proposed Monday conducting an urgent CFE Treaty conference in Vienna June 12-15.

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