NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Thursday he expects a major improvement in relations between Russia and the alliance.
"We finally exorcised the ghosts of the past by making a new start with Russia, a fresh start that will fundamentally improve the relationship between NATO and Russia," Rasmussen said at a video address on the NATO website.
The alliance's secretary general said that by next June the organization's member states will decide how they can cooperate together with Russia in the issue of missile defense.
Earlier in November, NATO and Russia pledged to embark on a new era of wide-ranging cooperation, announcing plans to work together on missile defense, Afghanistan and other issues.
Moscow has long opposed the deployment of NATO missile-defense facilities near its borders, claiming they would be a security threat and destroy the strategic balance of forces in Europe.
The United States scrapped earlier plans last September for an antimissile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland. Moscow welcomed the move, and President Dmitry Medvedev said later that Russia would drop plans to deploy Iskander-M tactical missiles in its Kaliningrad Region, which borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania.
"I hope in particular that NATO and Russia will be moving forward on missile defense cooperation. All these steps clearly signify a modernization of our relations," Rasmussen told RIA Novosti in November.
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.
BRUSSELS, December 2 (RIA Novosti)