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NATO-Russia talks ‘frank and serious’: Stoltenberg

BRUSSELS: NATO and Russia held “frank and serious” talks despite “profound disagreements” as their ambassadors met on Wednesday for the first time since 2014, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said.

“I think we had a very frank, serious and actually good meeting,” Stoltenberg told a news conference. “NATO allies and Russia hold very different views but we have listened to what each other has to say.”

The meeting of the NATO-Russia Council will be the first since the alliance cut off all practical ties with Moscow to protest the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine two years ago.

“There were profound disagreements related to the crisis with Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said, adding however that both NATO and Russia agreed on the importance of the Minsk peace agreements.

Relations have worsened over Moscow’s air campaign in Syria and tensions have flared in the past week after two incidents involving the US military and Russian planes in the Baltic Sea.

Stoltenberg said it was important to “keep channels of communication open” in both military and political terms, adding that it was necessary for “risk reduction”.

“We all agree that it is in all our interest to keep channels for political dialogue open. It is both necessary and useful, especially in times of tensions as we experience now,” the NATO chief added.

“However, this does not mean that we are back to business as usual.” AFP