BRUSSELS, January 31 (RIA Novosti) – NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed hope again on Thursday for progress in missile defense talks with Russia in 2013.
“I hope that the clarification of the political situation both in Russia and in the United States (the outcome of presidential elections last year) will pave the way for some progress [in 2013],” Rasmussen said, at a press conference following the presentation of NATO's annual report in Brussels.
“I do believe that it’s in our mutual interest to embark on cooperation to the benefit of people in Russia and people in NATO countries,” he said, adding NATO’s invitation to Russia to cooperate on missile defense still stands.
Russia and NATO agreed to cooperate on the so-called European missile defense system at the Lisbon summit in November 2010.
However, further talks between Russia and the alliance have floundered over NATO’s refusal to grant Russia legal guarantees that the system would not be aimed against Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent.
NATO and the United States insist the shield is designed to defend NATO members against missiles from North Korea and Iran, and would not be directed at Russia.
The Atlantic Alliance has vowed to continue developing and deploying its missile defenses, irrespective of the status of missile defense cooperation with Russia, which remains stalled.
Russia has threatened to launch a range of countermeasures to tackle NATO's missile defenses, including forward deployments of tactical nuclear missiles to its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad and improvements to its strategic nuclear missile arsenal.