Russia has agreed to co-operate on Nato’s program to defend against ballistic missile attacks, Nato’s chief has said.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen said at the Nato summit in Lisbon that the two sides had agreed in writing that they no longer posed a threat to one another.
“For the first time the two sides will be co-operating to defend themselves,” Mr. Rasmussen said.
The summit in Lisbon has focused on readdressing Nato’s focus to face new challenges.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said of the summit: “A period of very difficult, tense relations has been overcome.”
This is the first time Russia has attended a Nato summit since the Russia-Georgia war two years ago.
Earlier, Nato members had agreed on a program to develop and deploy defenses against ballistic missile attacks on their territories.
Mr. Rasmussen said he had extended an offer to Russia to co-operate on the program and was “very pleased that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had taken up that offer”.
Mr. Rasmussen said this agreement was of “real political importance” and a “true turning point”.
An exchange of information would occur on the threats to European skies, he said, and the two sides “could conceivably co-operate on shooting down an incoming missile”.
Mr. Rasmussen said: “The Nato nations and Russia have today agreed in writing that while we face many security challenges, we pose no threat to each other.”
Russia has even agreed to open up its borders for Nato members to transport supplies and equipment into Afghanistan.
Mr. Rasmussen said there would also be increased co-operation with Russia on terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, piracy and counter-narcotics.
Mr. Medvedev praised the “constructive atmosphere” of the summit, adding: “We have ambitious plans, we will work across all directions, including European missile defense and the Russia-Nato council has demonstrated that.”
But Mr. Medvedev said many details of the shield plan were still uncertain and there are a lot of details and fine print to go over.
President Obama hailed the “resetting” of Nato-Russia ties.
“We have agreed to co-operate on missile defense – we have turned a source of past tension into a source of co-operation,” he said.
President Obama also, again, appealed to the Senate to ratify the nuclear reduction treaty he has agreed on with Russian President Mr. Medvedev.
The treaty, if ratified, would reduce both countries’ nuclear arsenals and allow each to inspect the other’s facilities.
Mr. Obama said the Senate should “rise above partisanship” to ratify the deal.
The two-day Lisbon summit has been hailed as one of the most important in Nato’s history, as it seeks to modify its strategy and structure to face new security threats.