Nato overture to Russia

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The Independent Online

Nato has proposed a new era of co-operation with Russia, calling for joint work with Moscow and Washington on missile defence after the US scrapped a planned anti-missile system.

"I do believe that it is possible for Nato and Russia to make a new beginning and to enjoy a far more productive relationship in the future," Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in his first big policy speech since taking the Nato helm in August. "We should explore the potential for linking the US, Nato and Russian missile defence systems at an appropriate time."

Mr Rasmussen called for more co-operation on ending the conflict in Afghanistan, fighting piracy at sea and ensuring Iran does not develop nuclear arms. He gave few details of how his proposals would work but they were welcomed by Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's ambassador to Nato and one of Moscow's loudest critics of the planned US missile shield. Russia's Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, has described as "correct and brave"

Barack Obama's decision to drop the missile shield intended for Europe by predecessor George Bush. Under a new plan, the US would initially deploy ships with missile interceptors and in a second phase would field land-based defence systems. Mr Putin yesterday called for Mr Obama to follow up with concessions on trade and technology transfer.