Source Pravda.Ru

Russian Defence Minister to participate in informal meeting of Defence Ministers of NATO countries in Warsaw

On Wednesday Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov who arrived in Warsaw a day before will participate in an informal meeting of the Defence Ministers of the NATO countries and will also hold bilateral talks in the Polish Defence Ministry.

On the day before he said that "it is the first informal meeting in the 'twenty' format which is a result of the work done at the NATO-Russia summit." According to him, the problems of global and regional security, the struggle against international terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the questions relating to peace-making activity, and carrying out of rescue work will be considered in the course of the Warsaw forum.

In the opinion of the Defence Minister of Russia, "it is a major asset of informal meetings that each of the sides submits for discussion the questions of greatest concern to it". For this reason, he intends to raise the question of NATO's expansion to the east.

"To enter NATO is a sovereign right of any state", the Minister emphasized. "In this case Russia is concerned over only one treaty-legal aspect - entry of the Baltic countries into the alliance without joining the adapted treaty on conventional armed forces in Europe". Ivanov holds the view that if the Baltic countries do not join this document "a 'legal hole' which will threaten stability may emerge".

In the informal atmosphere the Defence Minister of Russia also intends to inform his counterparts in NATO of the situation with international terrorism which has arisen in Georgia. "It has already been established for sure that officials of Georgia have direct links with the terrorists staying on their territory", he stated.

Bilateral talks are slated to be held in the course of the meeting in the "twenty" format. Ivanov will, in particular, hold talks with NATO Secretary-General George Robertson and FRG Minister of Defence Peter Struck. As for the latter meeting, the Defence Minister of Russia noted that it will be his first acquaintance with recently-appointed Struck.

After the end of the informal meeting Ivanov will begin his official two-day visit to Poland at the invitation of Defence Minister of Poland Jerzy Szmajdzinski. Their talks will take place on Wednesday. Ceremonies of laying wreaths at the cemetery-mausoleum of Soviet soldiers in Warsaw and at the Unknown Soldier's Tomb will be held, too.