Accessibility links

EU Agrees to Restart Talks With Russia


European Union foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels, have agreed to reopen partnership talks with Russia frozen after the Russian military sweep into Georgia.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, says Lithuania was the only one of the 27 member countries to oppose resuming dialogue.

EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner says the talks could be scheduled after the November 18 meeting in Geneva on the conflict.

Earlier, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and his Swedish counterpart, Carl Bildt, said in a joint statement that the talks were in the union's best interests. But they expressed concern that Russian forces have not withdrawn to their pre-conflict deployments and again backed Georgia's territorial integrity.

Georgian Prime Minister Grigol Mgalobishvili said a return to business as usual with Russia would encourage Moscow to continue "aggressive actions" against Georgia and eastern Europe.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said his country wants "durable, long-lasting and close relations with the union as a strategic partner."

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said he hoped talks with Russia could resume soon, but also insisted there would be no return to "business as usual."

A Russia-EU summit is scheduled to take place Friday in Nice, France.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.



XS
SM
MD
LG