NATO cheers final approval of US-Russia nuclear pact
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Wednesday applauded Russia's ratification of a nuclear disarmament treaty with the United States as a boon to international security and stability.
The head of the 28-nation military alliance said he hoped the approval of the nuclear pact would galvanise talks on cooperation between NATO and Russia in a missile shield for Europe.
"I warmly welcome the ratification by the Russian Parliament of the new START Treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation," Rasmussen said in a statement.
"Following earlier ratification by the US Senate the entry into force of this important treaty is good news for international security and stability."
All 137 senators in Russia's Federation Council upper house approved the new START treaty, which US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev signed in Prague on April 8, 2010.
It was the final step in approving the first nuclear pact between the two former Cold War foes in 20 years.
"It will make an important contribution to strengthening transparency, predictability and cooperation," Rasmussen said.
"I also hope that political momentum generated by this Treaty will help Allies and Russia to make concrete progress in their strategic partnership, including in the field of missile defence," he said.
The vote coincided with a NATO-Russia Council meeting in Brussels at the level of ambassadors and military chiefs. The talks are expected to centre on the missile shield project, Afghanistan and terrorism.
NATO and Russia agreed at a summit in Lisbon on November 20 to explore the possibility of cooperating in the missile defence system for Europe but the two sides since have expressed different views about the project.
© 2011 AFP