On Friday, the Foreign Ministers of Russia and NATO member states made decision to form a new council. A joint statement to this effect reads that the new body will be formed to unite Russia and NATO member countries for preparing and implementing joint projects within the Twenty format. The document says that the Russia-NATO Permanent Joint Council has instructed its ambassadors, in keeping with the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, to work out new effective mechanisms for consultations, cooperation, joint decisionmaking, and the implementation of coordinated activities within the next few months. "Such mechanisms of cooperation exceeding the present format will have been formed by the time of our meeting in Reykjavik in May 2002 or earlier," the statement reads. The sides have agreed to improve cooperation in combating terrorism and in other fields, including the settlement of crises, non-proliferation of weapons, arms control, confidence-building measures, missile defence, search and rescue at sea, military operations, and emergency management. The formation of a new council is hoped to "give a new impetus and a new meaning to the NATO-Russia partnership," the document concludes.
Forest fires in Siberia have been raging for three months already. They have become a disaster not only of Russian, but of global scale. The fires have already scorched 12 million hectares of land