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Russia hopes for breakthrough in ties with NATO at Corfu talks

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Russia hopes military contacts with NATO will be restored after a Russia-NATO Council meeting later this month, Moscow's ambassador to the alliance said on Thursday.

MOSCOW, June 4 (RIA Novosti) - Russia hopes military contacts with NATO will be restored after a Russia-NATO Council meeting later this month, Moscow's ambassador to the alliance said on Thursday.

The foreign ministers of NATO countries and Russia will meet in Corfu, Greece, on June 27, the first high-level talks since last August's war between Russia and Georgia, after which NATO froze contacts with Moscow.

"The ministerial meeting is needed for a wide-reaching conversation on acute international security issues, as well as for giving the go-ahead to the gradual resumption of military contacts," Dmitry Rogozin told RIA Novosti.

Russia and NATO had planned to hold the meeting in May, but Moscow delayed it after the bloc expelled two Russian diplomats over a spying scandal. Moscow also criticized the NATO-led military exercises in Georgia last month as a sign of support for the Caucasus state's warmongering policies.

"If the ministerial meeting gives the go-ahead, military cooperation will resume," Rogozin said.

Rogozin said the agenda was still to be finalized, but that he would like the meeting to give an overview of current Russia-NATO relations.

"I believe the sides should reaffirm their mutual obligations, and show respect for each other," the diplomat said.

Rogozin criticized NATO for its reluctance to discuss its role in Georgia's offensive against breakaway South Ossetia, which led to the five-day war with Russia.

"Our western partners have been trying to avoid discussions on what happened in August 2008. They have avoided the conversation, including on their responsibility for militarizing Georgia, which is regrettable," he said.

"Our proposal to have a professional military overview of the situation in Georgia before August 8 and of what happened after the attack on Tskhinval remains in place. It is difficult to move ahead without analyzing the past."

The meeting will take place ahead of a session of foreign ministers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on the Greek island.

NATO and Russia have recently taken measures to step up cooperation on international security, including cargo supplies to Afghanistan and anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden.

 

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