Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is leaving for Reykjavik to take part in a session of the Russia-NATO Permanent Joint Council, the Russian Foreign Ministry Information and Press Department told RIA Novosti. The session will discuss "a package of agreements on switching the relations between Russia and the North Atlantic Alliance to the format of 20 in line with arrangements for a Russia-NATO summit slated for May 28th in Rome." The session over, the Russian Foreign Minister will hold a number of bilateral meetings. US Secretary of State Colin Powell and NATO Secretary General George Robertson are expected to become Ivanov's interlocutors. The focal point of the coming negotiations will be to sum up the provisions of the new NATO-Russia Council. As Igor Ivanov said while taking part in the May 12th TV link with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, "in Reykjavik we intend to finish drafting the document to be later submitted for signing by the leaders of Russia and NATO countries in Rome on May 28th." "The essence of the agreements," the Russian Foreign Minister stressed, "is that in the new Russia-NATO Council our country and NATO member states will discuss on an equal basis those problems which they will outline for discussion," Ivanov said. The Minister said there are about ten topical subjects to be discussed. He laid a particular stress on the fight against terrorism and emergency situations. "This is not a consultative body, but, if you wish, an executive one," Igor Ivanov stressed. Participants in it, he said, "discuss, make decisions and jointly participate in their implementation on an equal basis." "We seem to be launching a new scenario, a new ground for cooperation," he added. A high-ranking official from the NATO apparatus said recently at the Brussels headquarters of the North Atlantic Alliance that "the new format of 20 will make it possible to settle issues on an equal basis and as part of the joint big work on security and international policy programmes." The work "without preliminary co-ordination of every member's stance, as is the case with the Permanent Joint Council," is at issue, he stressed. At the same time, the NATO high-ranking official emphasised that it did not imply that Russia was going to become NATO's 20th member or that the NATO Council was going to be replaced with a new body. The Alliance will continue solving the issues of interest to NATO countries only in the old format of NATO members, he concluded.
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