NATO and Russia pledged to embark on a new era of wide-ranging cooperation on Saturday, announcing plans to work together on missile defense, Afghanistan and other issues.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signaled at the NATO Lisbon summit Moscow's willingness to work with the military alliance on the creation of a missile defense system in Europe.
Russia is ready to participate in a joint missile defense shield in Europe on principles of equality and responsibility, Medvedev said, adding that Moscow will continue dialogue with NATO on a future missile shield in Europe.
"We have agreed with our NATO partners - and I have held bilateral talks on the subject with the leaders of a number of European countries, France, Germany, Britain, as well as President Obama - that we will continue our dialogue on all issues related to a European missile shield," Medvedev said after a NATO-Russia Council meeting in the capital of Portugal.
However, he warned that the creation of unilateral missile defense systems could upset the existing balance of nuclear forces, which "would not benefit Europe or the world as a whole."
This could lead to a new arms race, he said.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Russia and NATO agreed to formulate terms for missile defense cooperation by June 2011.
"We could cooperate one day in shooting down missiles," Rasmussen said.
NATO has officially invited Russia to participate in the creation of a missile defense shield in Europe.
"We have decided to develop a missile defense capability to protect all NATO European populations, territory and forces, and invited Russia to cooperate with us," the alliance said in its summit declaration.
NATO will continue to explore opportunities for missile defense cooperation with Russia "in a spirit of reciprocity, maximum transparency and mutual confidence."
Russia and NATO have completed negotiations on drafting an agreement allowing the alliance to carry supplies to and from Afghanistan across the Russian territory, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
The Lisbon Summit Declaration welcomed "the new extended arrangements offered by Russia to facilitate ISAF transit to and from Afghanistan."
The new deal on the so-called reverse transit will allow NATO to ship armored vehicles and other equipment from Afghanistan back to Europe by the same route through Central Asia and Russia.
The bloc already uses routes through Russia and neighboring Central Asian states but current arrangements allow only for the transport of non-lethal supplies such as food and fuel.
NATO pledged earlier on Saturday to hand over responsibility for security in Afghanistan to Afghans by the end of 2014, but also vowed not to leave the country to face the Taliban threat alone.
The "cooling-off period" in relations between Russia and NATO is over, he said.
"We take an optimistic view of the future and are working to develop relations between Russia and NATO along all lines," he said.
Russia is also ready to cooperate with NATO in monitoring nuclear programs in other countries.
The NATO-Russia Council agreed to resume theater missile defense exercises and continue cooperation on the joint assessment of ballistic missile threats and the fight against sea piracy.
Rasmussen described the meeting as a "true, fresh start" to the relationship, adding that the 29 members of the council shared important interests and the "same threats" to their security.
On the prospect of NATO membership, Medvedev said Russia's accession to NATO is not an option at present but it could become an option if NATO changes.
"At the moment...I cannot envision Russia joining the alliance, but everything changes, and so does the North Atlantic Alliance," he said, responding to a reporter's question.
LISBON, November 20 (RIA Novosti)