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NATO head, Russian envoy hold 'constructive' talks - source

RIA Novosti

00:58 02/12/2009 BRUSSELS, December 1 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian envoy to NATO held a constructive meeting with the alliance's secretary general on Tuesday, a source in Russia's diplomatic mission told RIA Novosti.

Dmitry Rogozin met with Anders Fogh Rasmussen ahead of Friday's meeting of the NATO-Russia Council at the level of foreign ministers.

"The meeting was constructive and allows for the hope that the forthcoming ministerial meeting will be substantive and politically relevant," the source said.

Rogozin said earlier that the Canadian delegation had blocked the adoption of documents at the meeting, and accused NATO of refusing to set up a working group on Afghanistan and barring Moscow from participating in its internal discussions on the situation.

NATO spokesman James Appathurai denied that anything was blocked, saying that discussions continued on several documents ahead of the meeting.

According to Rogozin, Russia insists that the council lead the discussion on the enhancement of European security.

"I believe that since we published the draft treaty on European security, [Foreign] Minister [Sergei Lavrov] will have something to discuss with his colleagues even in the absence of other documents," Russia's permanent representative said after a meeting of ambassadors ahead of the foreign ministers' gathering.

President Dmitry Medvedev proposed drawing up a new European security pact in June 2008, and Russia published a draft of the treaty on Sunday, sending copies to heads of state and international organizations, including NATO.

The meeting of the Russia-NATO Council's foreign ministers is the first since the August 2008 armed conflict between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia, and is aimed at drafting a "roadmap" for improving relations between Russia and the Western military alliance.

Rogozin warned that NATO's links with Russia were one-sided, and said there were factions in NATO that still regard Russia as a "Cold War" rival and oppose any "reset" of relations.

"Feeling the need for assistance from Russia, they [these factions] nevertheless refuse to discuss issues that are vital to Russia's national interest, primarily, improving European security and the creation of a more balanced situation globally and on the European continent," the Russian diplomat said.

He added that the attitude of several NATO members has hampered concrete steps toward the improvement of Russia-NATO relations, as all decision-making processes in the alliance are based on consensus, and even a single member can block progress in dialogue with Moscow.

During an informal ministerial meeting in Greece in June, Russia and NATO agreed to renew cooperation on security issues, which was frozen after Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war in August over the former Georgian republic of South Ossetia, after which Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another former Georgian republic.

Relations have also been strained by Russia's resistance to Georgia and Ukraine's bids to join NATO.

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