NATO and Russian diplomats were set to disagree on Georgia, but nevertheless break a long standoff and restart bilateral cooperation on a number of issues during their meeting, NATO spokesman James Appathurai told New Europe on June 27 telephonically from the Greek island of Corfu where the ministers and diplomats gathered.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was due to hold informal discussions with Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and his counterparts from the 28 NATO allies in the framework of the NATO-Russia Council on the sidelines of a meeting of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), on the Ionian island of Corfu. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was forced to cancel her trip to Corfu after she fell and broke her elbow at the State Department. Deputy Secretary of States James Steinberg replaced her.Russia broke off relations with NATO when the defence alliance expressed dismay about a short war between Russia and Georgia over Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia’s breakaway republics, which have since been recognised as independent nations by Russia.
NATO has expressed interest in restarting the meetings since December, but had been rebuffed by Russia. Talks in May fell through over Russian anger at NATO manoeuvres in Georgia and accusations of NATO spying.