Russian Minister Says US Blocking Russia-NATO Accord: Agencies

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the United States on Saturday of blocking a cooperation programme between Moscow and the NATO alliance in a row over a European arms treaty, Russian news agencies reported. 

"The fact that an important document that simply set out a large number of spheres of agreement... has been blocked due to the absolutely ideological position of our American colleagues, who are trying to force us to annul Russia's law on the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, obviously is a cause for regret," Lavrov was quoted by Interfax as saying.

   Lavrov was referring to Russia's decision to suspend adherence to the CFE treaty, which sets limits on levels of troops and military hardware on the continent.

   Lavrov, who had attended a NATO-Russia meeting at the alliance's headquarters on Friday, said the United States was blocking approval of a programme setting out cooperation for 2008 in areas such as combating weapons of mass destruction, narcotics, industrial accidents and air space management.

   Last month President Vladimir Putin signed a law freezing Russia's adherence to the CFE with effect from December 12.

   Russia said it had taken the step because of the failure of NATO states to ratify a revised version of the treaty produced in 1999 to take account of the collapse of the independence of countries formerly ruled from Moscow.

   NATO states have said they will not ratify the revised treaty until Russia fulfils a related commitment to move military facilities from ex-Soviet Georgia and Moldova.

Source: AFP

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