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NATO, Russia ambassadors to meet to resolve differences

Associated Press logo Associated Press 28/03/2017

BRUSSELS — Ambassadors from NATO and Russia will meet this week for the first time this year in a fresh attempt to resolve some of their differences.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement Tuesday that a NATO-Russia Council — their main forum for dialogue — would be held at the military alliance's Brussels headquarters on Thursday.

Disputes over meeting agendas, particularly on the thorny issue of the conflict in Ukraine, have held up talks in the past.

Stoltenberg said after the last NATO-Russia Council in December that the 28-nation, U.S.-led military alliance and Russia "have profound disagreements on the crisis" in Ukraine.

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said Thursday's meeting would include talks on "the situation in and around Ukraine," security in Afghanistan, and efforts to reduce the risk of incidents or accidents from military exercises. Russia has announced plans to conduct war games near its western border in September.

"While NATO's practical cooperation with Russia remains suspended due to Russia's illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea and its continued destabilization of eastern Ukraine, NATO keeps channels of political dialogue open," Lungescu said.

NATO foreign ministers meet U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for the first time in Brussels on Friday, with Ukraine also on the agenda.

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