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NATO chief rules out talks on European security without Europeans

NATO chief rules out talks on European security without Europeans
NATO foreign ministers hold extraordinary meeting ahead of next week’s key talks with Russia

By Agnes Szucs

BRUSSELS (AA) – NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday ruled out the possibility to discuss European security without the presence of Europeans.

“There is no way we can discuss European security without European allies,” Stoltenberg told reporters following the extraordinary meeting of NATO foreign ministers, addressing concerns about a possible US-Russia deal on European security.

The top diplomats held a talk via video link ahead of next week’s key diplomatic events between NATO allies and Russia.

Stoltenberg said that the US made clear that they would not take decisions about European security during bilateral talks with Russia, and stressed that all European allies would be at the negotiating table at the NATO-Russia Council.

He called a “positive sign” Russia’s willingness to engage in talks with NATO allies despite high tensions, and said it was a great opportunity for Moscow “to demonstrate that it is serious about dialogue and diplomacy.”

He stressed that NATO allies were “ready to listen to Russian concerns and to make every effort to find a political way forward,” but they wanted in return to address NATO’s concerns on Russian actions as well.

He explained that despite the international community’s pressure, Russia’s “unprovoked and unjustified military buildup in and around Ukraine” continued with the deployment of “tens of thousands of combat troops and heavy capabilities”.

Stoltenberg added that NATO had also prepared for the failure of talks, and foreign ministers reaffirmed their support for Ukraine, stating that “any further aggression against Ukraine would have significant consequences and carry a heavy price for Russia.”

On Jan. 9-10, US and Russian delegations led by US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov will meet in Geneva.

On Jan. 12, the NATO-Russia Council will convene for the first time since NATO suspended all practical cooperation with Moscow in 2014 because of Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.

On Jan. 13, Russia will hold talks with Ukraine, Germany, and France as part of the so-called “Normandy format” to ensure the implementation of the Minsk peace agreements.

Last year was marked by high tensions between NATO and Russia over spying allegations and Russia’s continued military buildup in and around Ukraine.

To normalize relations, Russia handed two draft agreements on European security guarantees to the US and NATO last month.

source: News Feed
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