NATO, Russian chiefs of staff to meet next week

NATO and Russian chiefs of staff will meet in Brussels on Jan. 26 for the first time since the outbreak of war between Russia and Georgia in August 2008, a spokesman for the NATO military committee said on Wednesday.

Colonel Massimo Panizzi told a press briefing that the Chief of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, General Nikolai Makarov, was expected to attend the meeting with NATO military committee, which brings chiefs of staff from the 28 NATO nations.

“It will be the first time that the Russian chief of staff has taken part in such a meeting since the Georgian affair,” he said.

The two sides will discuss about furthering military cooperation, including Russia’s possible contribution to the NATO- led military efforts in Afghanistan and fight against terrorism, he said.

“Afghanistan will be one of the most important items on the agenda, given that these discussions will take place on the eve of the international conference on the country organized in London,” he said.

The relations between NATO and Russia were frozen after the August 2008 war. Though Georgia remains a source of tension, the relations between the two sides have improved in recent months.

In December 2009, NATO and Russian foreign ministers met in Brussels and agreed on enhancing military cooperation.

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