Source Pravda.Ru

Moscow-NATO contradictions about new mechanism of cooperation

Moscow is hosting talks between Russia's deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeny Gusarov and NATO Assistant Secretary General Guenther Altenburg. The latter arrived in the Russian capital yesterday to make preparations for an upcoming meeting between the Russian foreign minister and NATO top brass in Reykjavik, where the sides will initial a document on the new relationship between Russia and the North Atlantic Alliance in the "format of twenty." According to diplomatic sources in Moscow, there are three issues that have to be settled before the meeting, which is scheduled to take place on May 14th-16th. Firstly, it is necessary to give an exact definition to the format and status of the Group of Twenty, so that it is indeed a group of twenty and not a group of "nineteen plus one." This means that each of the parties concerned must join the Group of Twenty "as an individual national unity," since that is the only way to rule out the possibility of setting up "bloc positions" during discussions of disputable issues. The decision must be made "by means of consensus, the way it is exercised by the Group of Eight /Russia, the USA, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and Great Britain/." Secondly, it is still unclear whether Russia and NATO will keep the Permanent Joint Council they set up in 1997. Moscow insists on keeping it, while NATO is adamant that it should be closed down. And finally, the sides have to decide on the type of issues that will be handled by the Group of Twenty. According to RIA Novosti's sources, Russia's list of issues in question is much larger than that suggested by NATO countries.