The first session of the Permanent Joint Council, established by the Founding Act between NATO and Russia, was held on July 18 in Brussels — a day later than planned because the parties involved had trouble agreeing on how the meeting was to be run. The Founding Act calls for the council to be jointly chaired by 3 people: NATO’s secretary general, a Russian representative, and a representative of one of the 16 NATO members. It was not until late on July 17 that all the participants agreed on how this awkward arrangement would be implemented. They finally decided that NATO secretary general Javier Solana would open and close the meetings, while he and the other two chairmen would rotate as presiding officer after each agenda item.
The first meeting — held at the ambassadorial level with Vitaly Churkin representing Russia — was said to have been largely an organizational one, although Churkin reportedly came to the meeting with a long list of topics for future discussion. Robert Hunter, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, called the session "rather routine, which was probably a good thing." The council will meet at the foreign ministers’ level in New York during the UN General Assembly session in September. (Reuter, AP, July 18)
Tensions on the Boil in North Caucasus.