CORFU, Greece –
NATO and Russian diplomats are set to break a months-long standoff when they meet Saturday on the Greek island of Korfu. Russia broke off relations with the Western mutual defence organization last August when NATO expressed dismay about a short war between Russia and Georgia over Georgia’s breakaway republics, which have since been recognized as independent nations by Russia.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is set to meet with the 28 foreign ministers of the NATO countries on the sidelines of a meeting of the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe, reviving a tradition set up in 2002.
NATO has expressed interest in restarting the meetings since December, but had been rebuffed by Russia. Talks in May fell through over Russian anger at NATO manoeuvres in Georgia and accusations of NATO spying.
NATO officials say the main goal is to simply restart negotiations with Russia. But there are a host of issues to discuss, including the basing of US missile defence systems in Eastern Europe, Russia’s moratorium on the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) and continuing joint operations in Afghanistan.