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Russia says future of Russia-NATO Council depends on NATO
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Moscow will draw conclusions from NATO's pro-Georgian stance, and the future of the Russia-NATO Council "depends on our partners," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.

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The Russia-NATO Council was not established to teach Russia on how to behave towards Georgia, but to ensure security in Europe and the Euro-Atlantic region, Lavrov said.

"We believe that the council preserves its importance, but everything depends on our partners," he was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying.

The encouragement for Georgia joining NATO "is dictated by an intention which I cannot describe as being anything but anti-Russian and supportive of the aggressive regime," said the foreign minister.

"To be sure, there will be consequences. I think that we will draw appropriate conclusions," he was quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency as saying.

Russian troops have begun pulling out from Georgia, Lavrov said, adding that the "pullout will be made commensurately to Georgia's fulfillment of its obligations under the peace plan" and it will take three to four days.

Speaking at a press conference after the NATO ministerial talks in Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer warned that NATO's relations with Russia "will depend on concrete actions Russia will take to honor the words of President Medvedev to abide by the six-point ceasefire agreement."

The NATO-Russia Council is a mechanism for consultation, consensus-building, cooperation, joint decision and joint action, in which the individual NATO member states and Russia work as equal partners on a wide spectrum of security issues of common interest.

Georgia's bid to join NATO was rebuffed at the alliance's April summit in Bucharest. However, the NATO ministers on Tuesday reaffirmed their plans to eventually accept Georgia as a NATO member.

Soon after the NATO declaration, Russia announced that it would not participate in the NATO-led Open Spirit 2008 naval exercise in the Baltic Sea, and would refuse to receive a US warship in the Far East port of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

(Xinhua News Agency August 20, 2008)

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