NATO, Russia far apart on missile defense

Oct. 23, 2013 at 10:02 AM
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BRUSSELS, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- NATO ministers are working side-by-side with their Russian counterparts to resolve differences over missile defense, NATO's secretary-general said Wednesday.

Missile defense plans for Eastern Europe have frustrated the Kremlin, which says such developments would upset the regional balance of power. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said from Brussels it was "no secret" both sides were far apart on missile negotiations.

"However, ministerial discussions are valuable in addressing existing concerns and we need to continue to engage frankly and directly to overcome our differences," he said in a statement.

Defense ministers from NATO met in Brussels with their Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoygu, to discuss bilateral defense cooperation. Both sides conducted counter-terrorism exercises last month in Russia, Poland and Turkey.

Rasmussen said those operations indicated both sides are able to work side-by-side on shared strategic interests despite concerns over missile defense.

"We now have a proven joint capacity to respond to the hijacking of civilian aircraft and we have showed how effective the NATO-Russia Council is in this field," he said.

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