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Daily Archives: April 5, 2008

Nations agree to look at planes, ships in climate deal

 Image  More than 160 nations agreed yesterday
to consider how to reduce rapidly
growing emissions from air and
sea travel as they worked toward drafting an
ambitious new treaty on global warming.

No Cold War, but no deals at NATO-Russia summit

by Sebastian Smith*

President Vladimir Putin said yesterday there would be no return to the Cold War, but warned NATO at a summit of alliance leaders against expanding deeper into former Soviet territory.
"No I don't think it's possible. This is in no one's interest," Putin said when asked by journalists about the chances of current East-West tensions developing into a new Cold War.
The NATO-Russia summit — Putin's last major international event before stepping down from the Kremlin next month — achieved one success with an agreement to allow NATO supplies for Afghanistan to cross Russian territory.
But, despite what officials and Putin himself called a "positive" meeting, the main issues behind increasingly frayed relations remained unresolved.
The president was particularly angered by NATO's promise that ex-Soviet Georgia and Ukraine, both of which border Russia, would one day enter the alliance.
"A powerful bloc at our borders will be seen by Russia as a direct threat to our security," he told journalists at a surprise press conference after the summit.
He also lashed out at US plans for a missile defence system in central Europe, which Washington says would be aimed at Iran, not Russia.
"No one can seriously think that Iran would dare attack the United States," Putin told NATO leaders in a closed-doors speech, a source in his delegation said.
"Instead of pushing Iran into a corner, it would be far more sensible to think together how to help Iran become more predictable and transparent," Putin said.
The missile shield issue was likely to dominate further talks this weekend between Putin and US President George W. Bush at a summit in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Putin dismissed NATO's argument that membership helps steer ex-Soviet bloc countries to democracy, asking: "What is this nonsense?"
The former KGB officer also complained that Russia had peacefully withdrawn from eastern Europe after the Soviet collapse in 1991 and "of course expected something in return. But this didn't come."
Instead, some NATO countries "went as far as totally demonising Russia and they can't get away from this even now. Some began to talk about imperial ambitions."
For all the lack of results on the main Russia-NATO disputes, the summit was far from the bust-up meeting widely feared.
"Our concerns over our security have been heard," Putin said. "The spirit of cooperation and search for compromise prevailed."
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer described talks as frank and open.
"You can expect me to criticise unhelpful rhetoric when it occurs, but it did not occur this morning," Scheffer said.
One official who heard Putin's speech said the Russian leader "was tough. He was constructive, but he was combative.
"Everybody is very happy that Putin was there, they said that we have to do this more often," the official said, on condition of anonymity.
On another positive note, Putin also told NATO leaders that Moscow was ready to return to a key Cold War-era arms treaty, the Conventional Forces in Europe agreement frozen last year, if Western powers compromise.
"We are ready to return to the treaty but expect a mutual step," he said, according to the Russian delegation source.
But with the major issues unresolved, the potential remained for further tensions between NATO and Putin's successor Dmitry Medvedev, who takes over May 7.
Bush underlined NATO's open doors policy — regardless of Russia's opposition — by flying from Bucharest to Croatia, which was invited along with Albania at the summit to join NATO as the 27th and 28th members.
Despite strong US support, Georgia and Ukraine were not included in the Membership Action Plan (MAP), which means official candidate status, in Bucharest.
However, the promise of eventual membership was coupled with a decision that NATO foreign ministers will meet in December to reconsider the countries' bid for MAP status.

* AFP

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