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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ivanov: NATO Ties Were Year's Top Event

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov declared Moscow's new relationship with NATO to be the Kremlin's most significant foreign policy initiative of the past year, according to an television interview that was to be aired late Sunday.

In a wide-ranging interview with state-controlled Channel One summing up Russia's foreign policy record, Ivanov called the alliance between the former Cold War foes "the most noteworthy and unusual event of 2002," according to Russian news agencies, which published excerpts of the interview earlier in the day. "We managed to create such a structure where Russia and other states have equal rights," Ivanov said. The NATO-Russia Council has already proved that it "may become an effective mechanism of cooperation."

NATO and Russia signed an agreement in May making Moscow a limited partner through a joint council on counterterrorism, nonproliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, missile defense and peacekeeping.

"We are no longer standing on the verge of nuclear catastrophe," Ivanov said. "We have no external enemies and in this sense feel secure.

"But this does not mean we have no enemies at all," Ivanov said, citing international terrorism, organized crime "and the forces that are trying to violate the nonproliferation regime and are poisoning nations with drugs."

He said these common threats "can only be resisted jointly" by the international community.

Ivanov reiterated the Kremlin's relaxed attitude to the presence of U.S. troops in Central Asia in the anti-terror campaign. He said the presence would not weaken Russia's influence there.

As for foreign policy goals, Ivanov said Russia will continue to focus on guaranteeing the nation's security, creating conditions that promote continued democratic reforms and protecting the interests of Russians living abroad. Moscow is also aiming next year to improve ties with the Commonwealth of Independent States, a loose grouping of former Soviet republics, he said.