February 29, 2000
Germany and Russia expand military cooperation
Germany and Russia have agreed to expand military cooperation
controversy over the conflict in the breakaway republic of Chechnya.
German Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping said Tuesday after a
Moscow with his Russian counterpart Igor Sergeyev: "Our working
signalises that we have the will to work together even though we have
differences of opinion on some issues."
Some 33 joint military and military-technical projects are planned
for this year.
It is Scharping's first visit to Russia since the end of the Kosovo
conflict last year that caused a major setback in Moscow's relations
with NATO member states.
Earlier Tuesday Scharping met with Russian Foreign Minister Igor
kick off two days of talks focused on European security issues.
The Russian news agency Interfax quoted Ivanov as saying: "Even if
there are still serious differences between us over a number of
principal questions, that must not hinder dialogue - on the contrary,
it should be conducted more
Scharping's visit coincided with the fall of the rebel bastion town
Shatoi after five months of fighting in Chechnya.
The Russian military said it has broken the back of Islamic rebel
forces in the mountain stronghold overnight after a siege lasting
By morning commanders claimed to have crushed rebel resistance
there and in most of the heavily contested Argun gorge area.
In his talks with Ivanov Scharping said he had stressed Western
criticism of Moscow's military actions in Chechnya.
No one was questioning Russia's right to defend its territorial
but the use of force had been disproportionate, Scharping said. dpa jp