NATO and Russia to meet again, edge towards regular talks | Reuters

By Robin Emmott | BRUSSELS BRUSSELS NATO envoys will hold a formal meeting with Russia on Thursday, their fourth since the 2014 crisis in Ukraine halted regular talks, although both sides continue to accuse each other of destabilising eastern Europe.The NATO-Russia Council, the forum bringing together NATO ambassadors and Russia's top diplomat to the U.S.-led alliance, is seen as a way to prevent tensions escalating by explaining each other's positions, even when joint exercises and peacekeeping have been suspended.'The NATO-Russia Council is an important platform for dialogue to reduce tensions and increase transparency and predictability,' NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said.U.S. President Donald Trump, an admirer of his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, is seeking better ties with the Kremlin on a range of issues, including fighting Islamist militants.

Reuters March 28, 2017 21:51:19 IST
NATO and Russia to meet again, edge towards regular talks
| Reuters

NATO and Russia to meet again edge towards regular talks
 Reuters

By Robin Emmott
| BRUSSELS

BRUSSELS NATO envoys will hold a formal meeting with Russia on Thursday, their fourth since the 2014 crisis in Ukraine halted regular talks, although both sides continue to accuse each other of destabilising eastern Europe.The NATO-Russia Council, the forum bringing together NATO ambassadors and Russia's top diplomat to the U.S.-led alliance, is seen as a way to prevent tensions escalating by explaining each other's positions, even when joint exercises and peacekeeping have been suspended."The NATO-Russia Council is an important platform for dialogue to reduce tensions and increase transparency and predictability," NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said.U.S. President Donald Trump, an admirer of his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, is seeking better ties with the Kremlin on a range of issues, including fighting Islamist militants. Western diplomats said it was not clear if the chances of East-West cooperation had improved under Trump.

On Thursday's agenda is the separatist conflict in Ukraine that the West accuses Russia of orchestrating. Moscow denies that, but Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea remains divisive. Troop movements by both NATO and Russia will be discussed, as well as Moscow's deployment of missiles to its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, diplomats said.Afghanistan will also be on the agenda, but it is not clear if NATO's top commander will address his suspicions that Russia may be supplying Taliban insurgents. Moscow has rejected that as a lie.

The Council comes just weeks after the first telephone call in two years between the head of NATO's military committee, General Petr Pavel, and the chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov. Pavel is seeking a face-to-face meeting."The rhythm of the Council's work is gradually recovering," Russia's Ambassador to NATO Alexander Grushko said, referring to the meetings that restarted after a near two-year hiatus last April.

Russia is concerned about NATO's deployment of some 4,000 troops to the Baltic states and Poland, of whom some are already in place and the rest are due by June.The alliance will seek to provide reassurance that the build-up is defensive. NATO governments say the measures are modest compared with the 330,000 troops the alliance believes Russia has amassed on its western flank near Moscow since May. The allies say the four battalions, backed by additional U.S. forces on rotation, are justified by the Russian seizure of Crimea from Ukraine, which provoked fears in the Baltics that they might be next. (Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.