Stoltenberg, Lavrov fail to convene meeting of NATO-Russia Council

Representatives of NATO and Russia have tried and failed to resume formal talks through a council that has been largely inactive since 2014, when Moscow occupied and annexed parts of neighbouring Ukraine.

Jens Stoltenberg, head of the NATO military alliance, spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the Munich Security Conference Friday in an effort to convene high-level talks under the auspices of the NATO-Russia Council.

The failure to agree on a meeting "illustrates there are some challenges in the relationship between NATO and Russia," Stoltenberg said without elaborating.

The news comes two days after Stoltenberg announced the military alliance would increase its presence in the Black Sea, which surrounds Russian-annexed Crimea.

NATO suspended all practical cooperation with Russia after the annexation in 2014. Representatives of the two sides have not convened the council since June of that year, although there were some other political and military contacts.

Separately, it emerged that the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France would meet in Munich in the so-called Normandy format one year after a peace deal was agreed in Minsk.

The German Foreign Ministry said the meeting would take place early Saturday on the sidelines of the conference. It is hoped it will provide new impetus for the implementation of a peace deal agreed in Minsk on February 12, 2015.

Violations of the ceasefire are reported nearly daily, but the deal's implementation is imperative if Russia wants to remove crippling Western sanctions against its economy.

Last update: Fri, 12/02/2016 - 21:56

More from World

Trudeau faces ethics probe over vacation on Aga Khan's private island

Canada's ethics watchdog is investigating whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated his own conflict of...

King's son visits Trump after his sharp words with civil rights icon

President-elect Donald Trump met Monday with the son of slain civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King to...

Eight Egyptian police killed in attack on desert checkpoint

Eight Egyptian policemen were killed and three others wounded in an attack by gunmen Monday on a checkpoint in the...

Last man on the moon, US astronaut Gene Cernan, dies

The US astronaut Gene Cernan, the last astronaut to leave footprints on the moon, has died at the age of 82, the US...

Plague kills at least 27 in Madagascar

At least 27 people in southern Madagascar have died from the plague, health authorities on the island said Monday....