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NATO says its relationship with Belarus is based on common interests

Belarus has been a NATO partner since 1995

BRUSSELS, December 31. /TASS/. NATO intends to build relations with Belarus on the base of common interests and open channels of dialogue, the press service of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization commented on the TASS report on the preparation of Minsk for conducting joint peacekeeping exercises with NATO.

"Belarus has been a NATO partner since 1995. Our relationship is based on common interests and open channels of dialogue," the alliance’s press service commented.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Belarusian Defense Ministry told TASS Belarus is participating in talks with NATO on holding joint peacekeeping exercises, the Belarussian Defense Ministry told TASS on Tuesday.

"As far as joint exercises with NATO are concerned, the issue on the agenda is negotiations, and not preparations," the Defense Ministry said.

"As preparations are underway for delegating a peace-keeping unit to the Italian contingent of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, the possibility is being considered of joint drills with representatives of the Italian Republic’s armed forces. In particular, the issue on the agenda is to achieve better cooperation by units commissioned to maintain international peace and security," the Belarussian Defense Ministry said.

Belarus joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace Program in January 1995. Belarus has had a permanent mission at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels since 1998. Two Defense Ministry officials are on its staff.