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Foreign ministers of France, Germany, Poland, Russia back EU-Russia security committee

PARIS — The foreign ministers of France, Germany, Poland and Russia backed a proposal Wednesday for a joint European Union-Russia security committee to resolve regional crises.

The meeting in Paris was the first time Russia has joined in discussions with the so-called Weimar Triangle — France, Germany and Poland — a sign of increased strategic relations. The three-way consultations began in 1991 but had languished recently, before ministers pledged last year to revive the forum.

Bernard Kouchner of France, Sergey Lavrov of Russia, Radek Sikorski of Poland and Guido Westerwelle of Germany also touched on a dispute between Russia and its ex-Soviet neighbour Belarus over natural gas, as well as the deadly ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan and the war in Afghanistan.

The meeting came weeks after Germany and Russia proposed a joint European Union-Russian security committee aimed at resolving regional crises and conflicts, saying that contact between the EU and Russia on security matters needs to progress to a higher level.

Kouchner and Lavrov said the four ministers meeting in Paris supported that proposal.

"We should propose (the idea) together, which must obviously be accepted by the European Union," Kouchner said. He added, "Partnership with Russia is a strategic objective" for the EU. "It is not at all a divisive factor."

The proposed new forum, called the EU-Russia Political and Security Committee, would work on the ministerial level, with the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in charge. Lavrov said the proposed committee would bring "a new level of quality to our co-operation."

Its main purpose would be to set guidelines for joint EU-Russia crisis management, including military operations. A first problem to be addressed could be the Trans-Dniester conflict, in which Russian troops have been stationed in a separatist area of Moldova for nearly two decades since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Post-Crisis World Institute