CORFU, Greece – NATO and Russia on Saturday re-launched formal cooperation on security threats, an alliance official said after their first high-level talks since falling out over the Georgia war last year.
The deal emerged after NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said the two sides recognized it was time to crank up joint efforts against Afghan insurgents and drug trafficking, Somali piracy, terrorism and nuclear proliferation.
Asked ahead of a joint news conference if NATO and Russia had reached agreement to rebuild cooperation, the alliance official who asked for anonymity told Reuters, Yes.
Gathering on the Greek island of Corfu, many ministers will stay on for an informal European Union review of ties with Iran over its post-election crackdown on opposition protesters, and a session of Europe's biggest security and human rights group to tackle Western-Russian tensions stoked by the Georgia conflict.
The meetings come a week before a summit between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow, and a summit of Group of Eight powers in Italy.
The spate of diplomacy is aimed at mending ties torn by Russia's crushing of a Georgian bid to retake a rebel region and U.S. plans for a missile shield on Russia's doorstep, stirring a poisonous atmosphere reminiscent of the old Cold War.
(Reporting by Ingrid Melander and David Brunnstrom; Writing by Mark Heinrich; Editing by Louise Ireland)