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Russian defense minister to attend NATO-Russia Council meeting

RIA Novosti

02:26 08/06/2011 MOSCOW, June 8 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov will attend a NATO-Russia Council meeting at the level of defense ministers in Brussels on Wednesday, his spokeswoman Irina Kovalchuk said.

"The state and prospects of Russia-NATO military cooperation, as well as international security issues are expected to be discussed at the meeting," Kovalchuk said. She added that special attention will be paid to missile defense issues.

NATO insists there should be two independent missile defense systems in Europe that exchange information, while Russia favors a joint system with shared responsibility and involvement.

"The Russia-NATO Council meeting at the level of defense ministers will be held for the first time since the cooling in relations caused by the events in the Caucasus in August 2008," the spokeswoman said.

Russia and Georgia fought a controversial five-day war in 2008 over the breakaway Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia says it was protecting the numerous Russian passport holders living in the republics from a Georgian attack, but many Western countries claim the war was an unnecessary act of aggression on Russia's part and have condemned Russia's recognition of the republics as independent states.

Serdyukov will also hold a number of bilateral meetings with NATO defense ministers and the alliance's leadership.

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