NATO Plans to Offer Russia Consultations but Not a Veto

Article excerpt

NATO this month will offer former enemy Russia a consultative role on sensitive policy deliberations in a bid to secure Moscow's acquiescence to the alliance's expansion into Eastern Europe.

But Russia is holding out for a larger role, including the right to veto major decisions.

Defense Secretary William J. Perry and other U.S. officials have proposed the NATO-Russia Partnership Council, at which major alliance issues would be presented to Russia and other non-NATO nations.

Russia and the other nonmembers would be able to present their views but would not be present when NATO members voted.

NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana travels to Moscow on Jan. 19 to pitch the proposal.

Mr. Solana met with top officials at the Pentagon and State Department yesterday to discuss how to approach those talks.

At the State Department, he talked to Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Deputy Secretary of State Talbott, Undersecretary of State Peter Tarnoff and Assistant Secretary of State John Kornblum.

A State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the proposed Russia-NATO "charter" would have three aspects.

"One would be just to inform each other what each is doing," he said. "Two is for areas where we can cooperate - where we are jointly affected but each acts on his own. And three are areas where there is joint NATO-Russian cooperation, such as Bosnia.

"If we don't agree, then we each go our own way. But if we do agree, then we do things together. This is not a Russian presence in internal NATO debates."

The Clinton administration believes that the proposal would give Moscow a "real voice" in NATO security issues.

U.S. officials stress that Mr. Solana will go to Moscow with flexibility built into his brief. But it is too soon to say what the final offer to Moscow will be.

"We're not anywhere near any sort of details" about how the consultations would be conducted, a State Department official said. …