NATO proposes joint Black Sea naval drills with Russia

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NATO has proposed holding joint mine-clearing exercises in the Black Sea with the Russian Navy, the country's Black Sea Fleet said on Saturday.
MOSCOW, July 19 (RIA Novosti) - NATO has proposed holding joint mine-clearing exercises in the Black Sea with the Russian Navy, the country's Black Sea Fleet said on Saturday.

German Navy Commander Eike Tammen, who heads the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2, put forward the proposal, the fleet said in a statement.

"Tammen proposed to Russian naval officers that joint mine-clearing exercises be held in the Black Sea," statement said.

Warships from NATO members Germany, Greece, and Turkey are currently visiting the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk as part of the NATO-Russia Council cooperation schedule for 2008.

During their visit, officers from the NATO ships will meet with top officials in the Russian city, and with Vice-Admiral Sergei Menyailo, commander of the Novorossiisk naval base.

NATO is currently engaged in joint naval exercises in the Black Sea with Ukraine.

On Friday Russia's Foreign Ministry voiced concern over the U.S.-Ukrainian Sea Breeze exercises, saying their purpose was "questionable." Two years ago, Sea Breeze exercises in Ukraine's Russian-speaking Crimea were disrupted by anti-NATO protests.

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