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Russia, NATO may resume negotiations after two years: Moscow

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during an Atlantic Council discussion on NATO and stability on April 6, 2016 in Washington, DC. ©AFP

Russia says it may hold negotiations with the NATO military alliance within weeks for the first time since ties between both sides strained in 2014 over the crisis in Ukraine.

Alexey Meshkov, a Russian deputy foreign minister, said on Friday that the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) may hold a meeting after almost two years.

“I do not rule out it happening in the coming weeks,” local media quoted Meshkov as saying.

On Wednesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the Western alliance was in the process of discussion with Russian officials to “agree on an agenda and then to convene a meeting.”

“NATO is not looking for a confrontation with Russia. We will avoid a new Cold War. We are counting on a dialogue with Russia,” Stoltenberg said.

The NATO chief also said the NRC has never been suspended, adding, “Actually we had two meetings in the council after the annexation of Crimea. So the whole idea is that practical cooperation has been suspended, political dialogue has been in place.”

The NRC was established in 2002 in order to create a forum for talks on security issues between Russia and NATO members.

Relations between Russia and NATO specially soured after Crimea separated from Ukraine and rejoined the Russian Federation following a referendum in March 2014.

The military alliance ended all practical cooperation with Russia over the ensuing crisis in Ukraine in April 2014.

The United States and its European allies accuse Moscow of destabilizing Ukraine and have imposed a number of sanctions against Russian and pro-Russia figures. Moscow, however, rejects having a hand in the Ukrainian crisis.

Russia has also repeatedly slammed NATO’s military buildup near its borders, saying such a move poses a threat to both regional and international peace.

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