NATO AND Russia agreed yesterday to establish a new joint security council in a move hailed as a "profound change" by Igor Ivanov, the Russian Foreign Minister.
The decision to upgrade ties between the former Cold War adversaries was proposed last month by Tony Blair in response to the new mood of cooperation from Moscow since the terrorist attacks on America on 11 September.
At yesterday's Nato-Russia meeting in Brussels the plan was endorsed in broad terms, although debate on the details of how the new mechanism will work was deferred, amid anxiety that the new body will weaken Nato. The joint communique says the council will be put in place in time for the next meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Reykjavik in May.
Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, the Nato secretary general, said there was "no issue more important to the security and stability of the Euro- Atlantic area" than the development of a "confident and co- operative relationship" between Russia and the 19-nation alliance.
Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, called for the alliance to take advantage of the new climate to pursue "opportunities for joint action at 20". These could include anti- terrorism measures, crisis management, non-proliferation and arms control, missile defence, search and rescue at sea, military co-operation and civil emergencies.
The initiative has raised fundamental questions, such as the relevance of Nato, which the alliance would rather not answer at present. …