Summit Helps ‘Reset’ U.S.-Russia Relations, Obama Says

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2010 — The NATO-Rus­sia Coun­cil Sum­mit that took place in Lis­bon, Por­tu­gal, offers anoth­er step toward the reset of rela­tions between the Unit­ed States and Rus­sia, Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma said today.
“We see Rus­sia as a part­ner, not an adver­sary,” Oba­ma told reporters dur­ing the NATO Summit’s final press brief­ing.
Dur­ing the NRC meet­ing, he said, NATO lead­ers and Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Dmit­ry Medvedev agreed to deep­en their coop­er­a­tion on Afghanistan, coun­ternar­cotics efforts and a range of 21st cen­tu­ry secu­ri­ty chal­lenges.

“Per­haps most sig­nif­i­cant­ly,” Oba­ma said, “we agreed to coop­er­ate on mis­sile defense, which turns a source of past ten­sion into a source of poten­tial coop­er­a­tion against a shared threat.”

The NRC, estab­lished at the NATO-Rus­sia Sum­mit in Rome in 2002, is a mech­a­nism for con­sul­ta­tion, coop­er­a­tion and joint action in which NATO mem­ber states and Rus­sia work as part­ners on a range of com­mon secu­ri­ty issues.

The alliance sus­pend­ed for­mal meet­ings and coop­er­a­tion in some areas after Russia’s mil­i­tary action in Geor­gia in August 2008, then decid­ed in March 2009 to resume for­mal meet­ings. The NATO sec­re­tary gen­er­al chairs these meet­ings.

In Lis­bon, a joint state­ment issued by Medvedev and his coun­ter­parts from the oth­er 28 NRC mem­ber states said the coun­cil would resume the­ater bal­lis­tic mis­sile defense exer­cis­es and iden­ti­fy oppor­tu­ni­ties for Rus­sia to coop­er­ate with NATO’s new ter­ri­to­r­i­al mis­sile defense capa­bil­i­ty by June 2011.

“Here in Lis­bon we are lay­ing the foun­da­tions for stronger ties between our 29 nations than has ever been the case until now, which is why today marks a fresh start in NATO-Rus­sia rela­tions,” NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Anders Fogh Ras­mussen said.

“As evi­dence of our deter­mi­na­tion to coop­er­ate togeth­er,” he added, “I am pleased to be able to announce today the com­ple­tion of arrange­ments that will allow for the expand­ed tran­sit of equip­ment to the [Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force] mis­sion via the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion. I thank Pres­i­dent Medvedev for his sup­port.”

The coun­cil also approved a joint review of com­mon secu­ri­ty chal­lenges that will guide NATO-Rus­sia secu­ri­ty coop­er­a­tion, agreed to expand coop­er­a­tion in sup­port of the Afghan gov­ern­ment, and com­mit­ted to mak­ing bet­ter use of the NRC to man­age crises.

On coun­tert­er­ror­ism, the NRC said it would strength­en coop­er­a­tion by joint­ly devel­op­ing tech­nol­o­gy to detect explo­sives, coun­ter­ing ter­ror­ist threats to civ­il avi­a­tion and exchang­ing infor­ma­tion about ter­ror­ism.

Rus­sia con­firmed its inter­est in resum­ing its sup­port to NATO’s coun­tert­er­ror­ist oper­a­tion, called Active Endeav­our, in the Mediter­ranean Sea.

To fight the mar­itime secu­ri­ty threat of pira­cy and armed rob­bery at sea, NRC mem­ber states said they will expand exist­ing tac­ti­cal lev­el coop­er­a­tion through joint train­ing and exer­cis­es.

Rus­mussen said the most sig­nif­i­cant thing about the list of NATO-Rus­sia com­mon secu­ri­ty chal­lenges is what’s not there — each oth­er.

“The NATO nations and Rus­sia have today agreed in writ­ing that, while we face many secu­ri­ty chal­lenges, we pose no threat to each oth­er. That, alone, draws a clear line between the past and the future of NATO-Rus­sia rela­tions,” he said.

Oba­ma also announced that the Unit­ed States would host the next NATO sum­mit in 2012.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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