Russian anger

Russia has been angered by Nato's open-door policy in regard to former Soviet states Georgia and Ukraine.

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Nato chief seeks rapprochement with Russia

The war in Georgia brought already tense Nato-Russia ties to a head, particularly after Moscow decided to recognise the independence of the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Russia is also vehemently opposed to independence for Kosovo, which broke away from Serbia almost a year ago and where Nato leads a peacekeeping force.

Moscow has also threatened to counter the extension into Europe of a United States missile shield to be stationed in Poland and the Czech republic.

Nato allies, for their part, have expressed concern about Russia's decision to freeze a major Cold War arms treaty.

De Hoop Scheffer said: "Foreign ministers in December gave me the task of gradually re-engaging with Russia after the war in August in Georgia, and Munich, the security conference there, will be a moment in that process where I will relate and speak to the leader of the Russian delegation."  

James Appathurai, a Nato spokesman, said Nato and Russian ambassadors had held informal talks in Brussels on Monday, which lasted more than two hours.

Appathurai said the discussions "were very positive. There were no recriminations from either side."

"Georgia was not the subject of any heated discussion, and no-one called into question Nato-Russia relations," he said.

Appathurai said the ambassadors "did not examine the past but turned more toward the future", in particular their co-operation on Afghanistan, where Nato-led troops are fighting Taliban forces.