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Meeting of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) welcomes North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen during their meeting in Moscow on November 3, 2010. Rasmussen said on November 3 that the alliance and Russia must bury the ghosts of the past at an upcoming summit, as he sought to persuade Moscow to join a missile defense system. AFP PHOTO/RIA NOVOSTI/KREMLIN POOL/VLADIMIR RODIONOV (Photo by VLADIMIR RODIONOV/AFP/Getty Images)


November 03, 2010 (KATAKAMI / KREMLIN.RU) — Dmitry Medvedev and Anders Fogh Rasmussen discussed the current state and perspectives of Russia-NATO relations.

The President noted during the meeting that relations between Russia and NATO have gained in substance and become more productive of late, which creates opportunities for building a more solid security system in Europe and the world.

Russia’s delegation at the meeting included Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, and Russia’s Permanent Representative to NATO Dmitry Rogozin.

* * *

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Mr Secretary General, it is a pleasure to see you and wish you welcome.

I want to start by saying that relations between Russia and NATO have gained in substance and become more productive of late. We welcome this, as it creates opportunities to work harder on building up our cooperation and developing a more solid security system in Europe and the world.

We will discuss the current situation today, but I hope that later, at the summit in Lisbon, we will have the chance to talk about key cooperation areas between Russia and NATO. You know that I have decided to attend this summit, and I think it will be a useful event.

Once more, I wish you welcome to the Kremlin.


Thank you very much, Mr President. I’m really happy to be in Moscow once again. I’m pleased that you accepted my invitation to attend the NATO-Russia Council meeting in Lisbon on the 20th of November. Now I look very much forward to a productive meeting and I’m here to prepare that meeting jointly, to make sure that it will be a productive meeting, that we will see concrete results from that meeting.

I share your view that we have seen substantial progress in our relationship during recent months. And I would very much like to develop our cooperation further. I think that summit in Lisbon will represent a fresh start for our relationship, a modernization of our relationship. And I think there is scope for further development of practical cooperation in the coming years.

November 3, 2010, 17:00The Kremlin, Moscow

We’ve been in Afghanistan, we didn’t like it – Russia’s NATO envoy

We've been in Afghanistan, we didn't like it - Russia's NATO envoy


October 27, 2010 (KATAKAMI / RIA NOVOSTI) — Russia’s envoy to NATO on Wednesday dismissed reports that Russian troops could be sent back to Afghanistan two decades after the Soviet Union’s Red Army was forced out by U.S.-backed mujahedeen.

“We’ve already been in Afghanistan and we didn’t like it much,” Dmitry Rogozin told RIA Novosti.

The UK newspaper The Guardian said on Tuesday the proposal was on the table ahead of a landmark Russia-NATO summit in Lisbon next month.

The paper said Moscow and Brussels were discussing joint initiatives including “the contribution of Russian helicopters and crews to train Afghan pilots, possible Russian assistance in training Afghan national security forces, increased co-operation on counter-narcotics and border security, and improved transit and supply routes for NATO forces.”

“Maybe someone wants Russia to supply cannon fodder to Afghanistan,” Rogozin went on.

The Soviet Union was involved in a bitter decade-long conflict in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989. A million Afghan civilians and fighters are estimated to have lost their lives during the fighting. Some 15,000 Soviet soldiers also perished, and the return of Russian soldiers to the country would also be extremely unpopular in Russia.

The war had a profound impact on the Soviet Union, and has been cited as one of the key factors in the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Rogozin also said that Russia-NATO cooperation in Afghanistan consisted of training for Afghan and Pakistan police involved in the fight against drugs, transit and “the implementation of the so-called helicopter package.”

Russia is competing for a U.S. tender to supply Mi-17 helicopters to Afghanistan.

Russian crews will train Afghan pilots, but not in Afghanistan, Rogozin said. He also said that the issue of improved transit arrangements “has never been raised.”

BRUSSELS, October 27 (RIA Novosti)

Medvedev says NATO has no aggressive intentions toward Russia

Dmitry Medvedev at a meeting with participants of the 46th Munich Security Conference in Moscow

October 20, 2010 (KATAKAMI / RIA NOVOSTI) — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday that the opinion of many of his countrymen that NATO was hostile to Russia was “in many respects a mistake.”

“Relations between Russia and NATO have always been difficult,” Medvedev said at a meeting with participants of the 46th Munich Security Conference in Moscow. “We have a certain historical background.”

He agreed with conference participants that in Russia “there is the sense that NATO is some kind of aggressive element.”

“This is in many respects a mistake,” he went on.

“What is also evident is that Russia is often perceived by parts of the Western world, by ordinary people, as a country where there can be no democracy, whose leadership always adheres to authoritarian principles,” Medvedev said.

The Russian leader cited Russian-Polish relations, which have improved of late after many years of tension, as an example of how historical differences can be overcome.

The Munich conference, set up in 1962, is an international forum gathering politicians, diplomats, military, businessmen, scientists and public figures from over 40 countries. This is the first time that the conference has taken place in Russia.

GORKI, October 20 (RIA Novosti)

Russia’s Medvedev to attend NATO summit next month

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev speaks at a news conference also attended by France's President Nicolas Sarkozy and and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Deauville October 19, 2010. Medvedev said after talks with Sarkozy and Merkel that he would attend a NATO summit next month in Lisbon but wanted more details on an offer to cooperate with the alliance on a missile shield. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer )

October 19, 2010 (KATAKAMI / FRANCE 24 / AP)  – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has accepted an invitation to a summit of NATO leaders in Portugal next month.

Medvedev said at a summit with the leaders of France and Germany on Tuesday that he will go to the NATO summit in Lisbon.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says “I’m very happy that the Russian president will take part in the NATO summit. I’m pleased there is a basic
wilingness to participate.”

Leaders of NATO countries, including President Barack Obama, are expected to attend the summit.

NATO had invited Russia to join but as of last Friday NATO’s chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he had not had a response from the Kremlin.

Russia-NATO summit to contribute to European security – Rogozin

Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's envoy to the military alliance

October 19, 2010 (KATAKAMI / RIA NOVOSTI) — A forthcoming Russia-NATO summit in Lisbon will help Russia find common ground with its European neighbors on the issue of European security, a Russian envoy to NATO said on Tuesday.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said earlier on Tuesday that he would attend the Russia-NATO summit on November 20, part of NATO Lisbon summit on November 19-20.

“Emphasis will be placed on the Russian ideas, on Russia’s proposals and on our vision of the future of Europe,” Dmitry Rogozin said in an interview with Rossiya 24 television news channel.

President Medvedev proposed drawing up a new European security pact in June 2008, and Russia published a draft of the treaty in December 2009, sending copies to heads of state and international organizations, including NATO. However, the proposal has been met coolly by Western powers.

“This is a chance for us and a chance for the West to try to find common interests at a political level and try not just to hold talks, but also to do something together to deter threats,” Rogozin said.

Rogozin earlier said he hoped the Russian-NATO Council summit in Lisbon would help clarify preparations for the European missile defense plan.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has repeatedly said that NATO wants Russia to be part of a missile defense plan for Europe, but Russia says a serious assessment of missile risks should be carried out before starting on the project.

MOSCOW, October 19 (RIA Novosti)

NATO official: Bin Laden, deputy hiding in northwest Pakistan


Kabul, Afghanistan (KATAKAMI / CNN) — Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri are believed to be hiding close to each other in houses in northwest Pakistan, but are not together, a senior NATO official said.

“Nobody in al Qaeda is living in a cave,” said the official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the intelligence matters involved.

Rather, al Qaeda’s top leadership is believed to be living in relative comfort, protected by locals and some members of the Pakistani intelligence services, the official said.

Pakistan has repeatedly denied protecting members of the al Qaeda leadership.

The official said the general region where bin Laden is likely to have moved around in recent years ranges from the mountainous Chitral area in the far northwest near the Chinese border, to the Kurram Valley which neighbors Afghanistan’s Tora Bora, one of the Taliban strongholds during the U.S. invasion in 2001.

Tora Bora is also the region from which bin Laden is believed to have escaped during a U.S. bombing raid in late 2001. U.S. officials have long said there have been no confirmed sightings of bin Laden or Zawahiri for several years.

The area that the official described covers hundreds of square miles of some of the most rugged terrain in Pakistan inhabited by fiercely independent tribes.

The official also confirmed the U.S. assessment that Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, has moved between the cities of Quetta and Karachi in Pakistan over the last several months.

The official would not discuss how the coalition has come to know any of this information, but he has access to some of the most sensitive information in the NATO alliance.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Monday that similar reports of bin Laden and Mullah Omar’s whereabouts have proven false in the past.

Malik denied the two men are on Pakistani soil, but said that any information to the contrary should be shared with Pakistani officials so that they can take “immediate action” to arrest the pair.

The NATO official, who has day-to-day senior responsibilities for the war, offered a potentially grimmer view than what has been publicly offered by others.

“Every year the insurgency can generate more and more manpower,” despite military attacks, he said.

Although there has been security progress, he pointed to an internal assessment that there are 500,000 to 1 million “disaffected” men between the ages of 15 and 25 along the Afghan-Pakistan border region, he said.

Most are Afghan Pashtuns and make up some of the 95 percent of the insurgency who carry out attacks just to earn money, rather than fight for a hard-core Taliban ideology.

The official said it is now absolutely vital for the Afghan government to address the needs of this group with security, economic development and jobs in order for the war to end, and for Afghanistan to succeed.

“We are running out of time,” he said.

The entire scenario is made more complex by the fact that “there is a huge criminal enterprise in this country,” dealing in human, drug and mineral trafficking, he said. Those crimes are also tied into the insurgency.

He acknowledged the overall strategy now is to increase offensive airstrikes and ground attacks in order to increase the pressure on the Taliban and insurgents groups to come to the negotiating table with the current Afghan government.

There is a growing sense that many insurgent leaders may be willing to accept conditions such as renouncing al Qaeda because they want to come back to Afghanistan.

But, the official cautioned, hard core Taliban groups such as the Quetta Shura run by Mullah Omar, the Haqqanis, the HiG (Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin) and the Pakistani Taliban still could potentially muster as many as 30,000 fighters.

The U.S. continues to face a more localized insurgency in the south. In places like Marja and the Helmand River Valley, the majority of the fighters are captured within a few miles of their homes.

The insurgent leader Mullah Abdullah Zakir has increased his strength in the south, the official said. He essentially exerts some levels of control and influence both in the greater Kandahar region and across the south from Zabul to Farah province.

The official continued to stress the urgency of getting the Afghan government to deal with the multitude of problems it faces.

Right now, the U.S. war plan approved by President Barack Obama extends through 2014, the official said. That is the official document that spells out matters such as troop rotation schedules.

The U.S. military could sustain a war “‘indefinitely,” the official said. But the goal is to achieve reconciliation and allow the Afghan government to function and provide security and services to the people.

Without that, he said, “we will be fighting here forever.”

NATO helped bring Taliban official to Kabul: Gen. Petraeus

U.S. Army General David Petraeus addresses member of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), in central London, October 15, 2010. (Reuters/Dan Kitwood/Pool )



October 15, 2010 – (KATAKAMI / Reuters) – NATO-led forces facilitated the passage of a senior Taliban commander to Kabul to hold talks with the Afghan government, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan said on Friday.

General David Petraeus, commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), said the move was part of U.S. and NATO support for President Hamid Karzai’s reconciliation discussions with the Taliban.

“In certain respect we do facilitate that, given that, needless to say it would not be the easiest of tasks for a senior Taliban commander to enter Afghanistan and make his way to Kabul if ISAF were not….aware of it and therefore allows it to take place,” he told an audience in London.

“That’s about as far as I can go on that at this point.”

Petraeus said several “very senior” Taliban leaders had reached out to the Afghan government and other countries engaged in Afghanistan. However, he said the discussions were preliminary in nature.

“They certainly would not rise to the level of being called negotiations,” he said.

U.S. and NATO leaders said on Thursday they were ready to help Afghan President Hamid Karzai pursue reconciliation efforts with the Taliban. Pakistan said on Friday it was willing to assist such talks.

PM David Cameron and NATO Secretary-General hold talks

July 13, 2010

(KATAKAMI / NUMBER10.GOV.UK)  Prime Minister David Cameron and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen have held talks about the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

In a meeting at Number 10 on Monday, the two leaders agreed that the next year will be a crucial time and that the training of the Afghan army and police was a key objective.

Mr Cameron, who paid his first visit to Afghanistan as Prime Minister last month, reiterated that it was his Government’s top foreign policy priority.

A Downing Street spokesman said:

“They agreed on the central importance of the ongoing ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) mission in Afghanistan to the national security of the UK and all NATO allies. The Prime Minister made clear that success in Afghanistan was his Government’s highest foreign policy and national security priority.

“The leaders agreed that the next year would be crucial. The current counter-insurgency strategy remained right. The recent troop surge provided the necessary military resources. The Prime Minister made clear his confidence in General Petraeus’ ability to deliver progress on the ground. The Prime Minister and the Secretary-General reaffirmed their view that accelerating training of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police was a key objective for the period ahead.

“The Prime Minister thanked the Secretary-General for his vital efforts in ensuring a continued, concerted international effort in Afghanistan. The Secretary-General expressed his deep gratitude for the sacrifices made by British troops in Helmand Province.”

Mr Cameron and Mr Rasmussen also discussed work on the new NATO strategic concept and the upcoming NATO Summit in Lisbon.  (*)

NATO: Change in command won't affect Afghanistan mission


Brig. Josef Blotz


June 27, 2010

KABUL, Afghanistan – A NATO spokesman stressed today that military operations to secure vast areas of Afghanistan would not be delayed by the ouster of the top commander in the war and mounting casualties.

NATO and U.S. forces are continuing their work as they await the arrival of new commander Gen. David Petraeus. He is taking over from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was ousted by President Barack Obama after he and his aides were quoted in Rolling Stone magazine making disparaging remarks about top Obama administration officials.

There has been concern that the leadership shake-up will further slow a push into the volatile south that has already been delayed by weeks in some areas and months in others. But NATO spokesman Brig. Josef Blotz told reporters in Kabul that the worries are unwarranted and the military is not pausing because of the changes.

“We will not miss a beat in our operations to expand security here in Afghanistan,” Blotz said, repeating the assurances of many diplomats in recent days that the change in leadership does not mean a re-evaluation of strategy.

The top American military officer, Adm. Mike Mullen, flew to Afghanistan on Saturday to assure President Hamid Karzai that Petraeus would pursue the policies of his predecessor, including efforts to reduce civilian casualties.

Blotz said Petraeus was expected in Kabul in the next seven to 10 days.

Operations appear to be continuing apace, according to NATO statements. Two recent air strikes in the north, east and south killed at least nine militants, including two local Taliban commanders, NATO and Afghan officials said. No civilians were injured, NATO said.

Eight other militants were killed in a NATO-Afghan military operation in eastern Ghazni province, according to Gen. Khail Buz Sherzai, the provincial police chief.

NATO deaths also are climbing daily. A U.S. service member was killed in a bomb attack in the south and two others in a firefight in the east on Sunday, said Col. Wayne Shanks, a U.S. forces spokesman.

June has become the deadliest month of the war for NATO troops with at least 93 killed, 56 of them American. For U.S. troops, the deadliest month was October 2009, with a toll of 59 dead.

Blotz said the deaths do show that the fight is getting harder in Afghanistan, but said that does not affect NATO’s resolve.

“We are in the arena. There is no way out now. We have to stay on. We have to fight this campaign,” he said.

Blotz said about 130 middle- to senior-level Taliban insurgents have been killed or captured in the past four months.

But Taliban attacks against those allied with the government or NATO forces have also surged. In the latest such violence, the headmaster of a high school in eastern Ghazni was beheaded by militants on Saturday, the Education Ministry said. A high school in the same district — Qarabagh — was set on fire the same day.

NATO says 4 troops die in Afghan helicopter crash

Six NATO soldiers killed in Afghanistan

US soldiers wait to board helicopters in Kandahar, Afghanistan.



KABUL, Afghanistan – A military helicopter crashed during an early morning operation in southern Afghanistan on Monday, killing three Australian commandoes and an American service member, officials said.

Two other international service members were killed Sunday in separate bombings in the south, NATO announced without specifying nationalities. One of them was an American, according to a U.S. spokesman Col. Wayne Shanks.

The crash was being investigated but there were no indications of enemy involvement, NATO said in a statement.

The Australian government said three of the dead were Australians, and U.S. Lt. Col. Joseph T. Breasseale said the fourth service member killed was American.

Australian Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said seven other Australian soldiers were wounded, two of them badly.

“This is a tragic day for Australia, and for the Australian defense force,” Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said in a statement to Parliament. “We know our mission in Afghanistan is hard, but this mission is critical for our common security.”

There were 15 people aboard the helicopter, 10 of them Australians, according to Australian Defense Minister John Faulkner.

The crash comes in a particularly deadly month for NATO forces. With the most recent deaths, at least 59 international troops, including 36 Americans, have died so far in June. That puts June among the deadliest months for international forces in the nearly nine-year war. The deadliest month so far for the military alliance was July 2009 when 75 troops, including 44 Americans, were killed.

The rising death toll underscores the precarious situation for Afghanistan’s international allies as violence has ramped up this summer.

The United Nations plans to pull some of its approximately 1,000 foreign staffers from the country in the next three months, according to a U.N. report issued last week. The world body has been facing recruitment and housing problems since it tightened security for staffers in the wake of an attack on a residential hotel in Kabul in October where U.N. election staffers were staying. Five U.N. employees died in the attack.

The goal, according to the report, is to reduce the number of U.N. staff in Afghanistan as much as possible without compromising the effectiveness of the mission.

Dan McNorton, a U.N. spokesman in Afghanistan, said that only support staff would be relocated. He would not give a figure on how many people will be moved, saying only that it was “a few” or “a small number.”

The helicopter crashed before dawn in southern Kandahar province, and the operation it had been part of was still ongoing, Houston said.

Other coalition helicopters that were part of the same push landed near the downed aircraft and airlifted out the wounded, he said. More details on the operation were not given.

NATO has launched a major operation to secure the biggest southern city, Kandahar, capital of the province where the Taliban were first organized in the 1990s.

Australia has some 1,500 troops in Afghanistan alongside NATO forces. Monday’s deaths take Australia’s military death toll in Afghanistan to 16.

Australia’s 1,550 troops in Afghanistan are based mainly in Uruzgan province, and are mostly involved in training Afghan security forces.