Russia-NATO talks focus on missile shield, CFE treaty, Kosovo

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Moscow, Apr 3 (UNI) A top aide of outgoing President Vladimir Putin today said Russia-NATO Council meeting in Bucharest (Romania) tomorrow will discuss US plans to deploy missile defence in Europe, Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty and Kosovo issue.

Mr Putin's special aide on foreign affairs Sergei Prikhodko, who would accompany him to Bucharest along with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov today, told mediapersons those issues, along with the Western military alliance's ongoing expansion, have hampered cooperation between Russia and NATO members.

''NATO's claims to a global security role, to activities outside its geographical zone of responsibility and traditional spheres, including energy and cyber security, and unclear criteria for the use of force and relations with the UN Security Council, have added a great deal of unpredictability to our cooperation,'' Mr Prikhodko said.

NATO's expansion and Washington's plans to deploy missile defence elements in Central Europe have angered Moscow, and plunged its relations with Western states to a post-Cold War low.

NATO at its summit in Bucharest today confirmed it would not yet offer membership to Georgia and Ukraine after the 26-member alliance was split amid strong objections from Russia.

Russia views a planned missile base in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic as a direct threat to its security and has rejected Washington's assurances that they were designed as protection against Iran and other West Asian states.

Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia was another irritant in relations between NATO and Russia, which unlike most of the bloc's members that recognised 'the newest state' calls the secession illegitimate and a dangerous precedent.

UNI XC PD PM1931

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