Political News

NATO chief plans to meet Russian foreign minister

Posted September 20

— NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg plans to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the 71st United Nations General Assembly in New York to discuss measures to avoid accidental confrontations between the alliance and Russian armed forces.

"I think it is important to continue to have a chance for political dialogue open, and I look forward to meeting him tomorrow," the NATO chief told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The secretary-general welcomed Russia's "interest and willingness to sit down and discuss proposals on risk reduction and transparency." Stoltenberg, however, refused to elaborate on the substance of measures which will be discussed with Lavrov.

The two leaders will convene Wednesday amid increasing concerns over Russian drills conducted without advance notification. NATO Deputy Secretary-General Alexander Vershbow estimated that there had been about a dozen in the past two years.

The alliance chief also said that NATO AWACS surveillance planes will be deployed "in the near future" to help the U.S.-led coalition combat the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

Stoltenberg added that the coalition members have already agreed on technicalities of planned AWACS operations, the groundwork for which was laid out at NATO's summit in Warsaw, Poland, in July.

Members of the anti-IS coalition "need more air surveillance to be able to conduct their air operations as efficiently as possible, and we will provide that," he stressed.

When asked about the prospects for a no-fly zone over northern Syria, which Turkey has repeatedly urged NATO and the anti-IS coalition to establish, Stoltenberg said that "NATO will not be part of this kind of operational decision."

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