The North Atlantic Council, which met in Defence Ministers Session in Brussels on December 18, discussed "missile defence and the global strategic environment." The ministers "took note of U.S. and Russian statements that the U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty presents no threat to the Russian Federation," the final communique of the meeting said. The need to maintain strategic stability remains critically important, it pointed out. "We welcomed that both sides have worked intensely and are continuing to do so to create a new strategic relationship based on mutual interests and cooperation across a broad range of political, economic, and security issues in order to contribute to global security and strategic stability," the communique said. In this context, the ministers welcomed the movement toward new, lower levels of offensive nuclear weapons made clear in both U.S. and Russian statements. NATO looks forward to continued consultations with the United States on these issues. The council discussed NATO-Russia relations. The ministers reaffirmed that "a confident and cooperative partnership between the Allies and Russia, based on shared democratic values and the shared commitment to a stable, peaceful and undivided Europe, as enshrined in the NATO-Russia Founding Act, is essential for stability and security in the Euro-Atlantic area." The defence ministers welcomed the decision of foreign ministers on December 7 to give new impetus and substance to the partnership between NATO Allies and Russia, with the goal of creating a new NATO-Russia Council to identify and pursue opportunities for joint action at 20. To that end, the communique said, the North Atlantic Council in Permanent Session has been tasked to explore and develop, in the coming months, building on the Founding Act, "new effective mechanisms for consultation, cooperation, joint decision, and coordinated/joint action." "NATO's fundamental objectives remain as set out in the Washington Treaty, under which provisions NATO will maintain its prerogative of independent decision and action at 19 on all issues consistent with its obligations and responsibilities" the communique said. The defence ministers expressed their determination to "enhance the NATO-Russia partnership in the defence and military field."