As part of the intensifying political dialogue between NATO and Russia, the ambassadors of the 29 NRC member states held informal sessions chaired by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, with the participation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov.
“Today, we restated our commitment to pursue missile defence cooperation in the NATO-Russia Council,” Secretary General Rasmussen said after the meeting. “Because it is so important, and because we all stand to gain by working together, we are determined to keep up the dialogue and to keep up the work.”
The topics discussed covered the whole range of NRC business, including practical cooperation in the fight against terrorism, Afghanistan, defence reform and military-to-military interaction, as well as missile defence. The ambassadors also met with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, who briefed them on ongoing preparations for the Winter Olympic Games, which will take place in Sochi in 2014.
NRC members also discussed NATO’s operation to enforce UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 in Libya.
In the afternoon, the Secretary General held a bilateral meeting with the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev. Afterwards, President Medvedev engaged in a discussion with all NRC ambassadors .
In a joint press conference with Minister Lavrov after this meeting, the Secretary General described the exchange of views with the President as “frank, friendly and fruitful, in the spirit of the Lisbon summit which the President attended last November”.
He also underlined that discussions in Sochi focused on “the key challenges facing Russia and NATO at home and abroad” , from terrorism, to missile defence to the reform our our defence sectors.
The Secretary General stressed that NATO “is not a competitor, but a partner that Russia can trust”, because “in an uncertain world, NATO provides security, stability and safety - not just for our Allies, but also for our neighbours”.
Rasmussen also met today in Sochi with President Zuma of South Africa, together with President Medvedev.
In the press conference, Rasmussen underlined that NATO provides security, stability and safety for Allies and neighbours.
"Our mission in Libya is clear proof", he outlined.
The NATO Secretary General added that "this operation is necessary. Without NATO's action, countless more people would have been killed, as Qadhafi threatened and continues to threaten. This operation has a strong legal base. Our mandate is the historic resolution of the United Security Council - and we are fully complying with that mandate. We conduct our operations with utmost care, we do not target individuals, and we have no intention to put troops on the ground".
"And this operation has firm regional support. Several of our contributing partners are from the region. We support all regional and international efforts to find a political solution which takes into account the legitimate aspirations of the people of Libya. In this, we are fully in agreement with Russia", Rasmussen emphasised.
He concluded that "earlier today I discussed this issue with president Medvedev and president Zuma. I believe it was a very useful occasion to exchange of views".