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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A NATO Cooperation Pact May Be Signed Soon

Russia and NATO plan to sign an accord this year that would allow the former Cold War foes to deploy troops and military hardware on each others' territories, officials said.

"The document will allow NATO units with military hardware onto our territory and our units onto the territories of alliance countries," Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Sunday in Oslo, Russian news agencies reported.

He expressed hope that the Status of Forces Agreement would be signed this year and that it would enhance cooperation between the alliance and Moscow in their fight against terrorism.

Ivanov was speaking during a stop in the Norwegian capital as he headed for a NATO-Russia anti-terrorism conference at the NATO Transformation Command in Norfolk, Virginia, which opened Monday.

At the conference Monday, Ivanov warned that "a new wave of terrorism" is rising in the world. He also said NATO and Russian forces will conduct a joint exercise on the Kola Peninsula this year to practice warding off terrorist attacks with the use of weapons of mass destruction.

Ivanov was to hold separate negotiations with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer to discuss the possible participation of the Russian Navy in NATO's patrolling of the Mediterranean Sea. Ivanov said the Black Sea Fleet could join the patrols to intercept illegal migrants and "dangerous cargoes."

NATO spokesman Robert Pszczel confirmed Monday in Brussels that the alliance and Russia are working on SOFA. He said by telephone that the agreement would regulate, among others, the legal and administrative aspects of the transit or deployment of NATO troops and military hardware for joint exercises on Russia's territory and vice versa.

Without the agreement, NATO members such as Germany have had to negotiate individual agreements with Russia to allow the transit of German troops to Afghanistan, where NATO is conducting peacekeeping and anti-terrorist operations, Pszczel said. A similar agreement is in the works to allow the transit of French troops to Afghanistan, according to reports in the Russian press.

Pszczel said NATO has signed SOFAs with most of the other 20 or so countries participating in NATO's Partnership for Peace Program. "It is a standard ... technical agreement, but it is also politically important and it helps enormously" in organizing joint exercises and transits, he said.

He also said NATO would not rule out talks on the participation of Russian warships in Mediterranean patrols.

Despite the standard nature of the agreement, some politicians in Moscow have come out against it. The agreement is a "step toward the imperceptible occupation of Russia by NATO troops," Deputy State Duma Speaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky was quoted by the Gazeta newspaper as saying.

Ivanov said in Oslo that he has a "reserved but negative" feeling about NATO's most recent eastward expansion. The alliance last week formally accepted seven new members -- Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.