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Clinton Urges Closer Cooperation Between NATO And Russia

February 23, 2010

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said Russia and NATO should cooperate more closely to combat growing transnational threats like nuclear proliferation, terrorism, piracy, and cyber security.

In a speech late on February 22 in Washington on the future of the trans-Atlantic military alliance, Clinton rejected Moscow's push a new European security treaty -- which Washington believes would reduce NATO's influence around the world -- and proposed instead that Russia move closer to NATO.

"Let me state this unambiguously: While Russia faces challenges to its security, NATO is not among them," Clinton said. "We want a cooperative NATO-Russia relationship that produces concrete results and draws NATO and Russia closer together."

As NATO has expanded eastward in recent years, to include the Baltics and some Balkan states, Russia has viewed its growth with deep suspicion.

Moscow strongly opposes NATO's plan to offer membership to Georgia and Ukraine, which it regards as still part of its sphere of influence.

Russia has also bristled anew at U.S. plans to build part of its missile defense system in Romania, after scrapping plans to do so in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Since coming into office, President Barack Obama has pursued a path of "resetting" U.S. relations with Russia, which suffered after the short war between Russia and Georgia in 2008.

On February 22, Clinton acknowledged Russia's anger over the Romania site but went a step further than offering the usual reassuring words that the system is not aimed at Moscow.

"Just as Russia is an important partner in efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation, so should it be in missile defense. And we invite Russia to join NATO in developing a missile defense system that can protect all citizens of Europe and Russia," Clinton said.

Clinton also sent a message to Russia that the United States remains committed to European security despite the fact that its attention is being pulled away by events in Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, and even China.

A few months ago, Clinton's deputy, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Phillip Gordon, reassured a group of European reporters that the United States "continues to stand by our friends in Europe even as we hope to build a much more trusting and useful relationship with Russia."

In her speech, Clinton joined that message with her own, which was that Europe stands to benefit from a closer NATO-Russia relationship.

"European security will benefit if NATO and Russia are more open about our armaments, our military facilities and our exercises," Clinton said. "NATO and Russia should have a regular exchange of information on posture, doctrine, and planned military exercises, as well as specific measures to permit observation of military exercises and to allow visits to new or significantly improved military installations."

She also urged NATO to rethink its guiding doctrine of "strategic concept" to reflect the new threats faced by its 28 member countries.

The guiding principles of NATO's mission are still relevant, but the alliance's method must change, she said.

"Success in a protracted struggle is not simply a matter of having more troops or better equipment. It's also a function of how effectively you adapt to new circumstances," Clinton said. "You don't win by fighting the last war. NATO cannot continue to succeed by looking in the rearview mirror."

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, is leading a group of experts in the task of updating NATO's strategic concept, which was last reworked in 1999.

The new version is set to be adopted at a NATO summit in Lisbon in November.

compiled from agency reports

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/Clinton_Urges_Closer_Cooperation_Between_NATO_And_Russia/1965571.html

Copyright (c) 2010. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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