4 Feb 2020 19:54

Lavrov proposes 'trust-based' military dialogue to Sweden

MOSCOW. Feb 4 (Interfax) - Russia has proposed to Sweden establishing a military dialogue to defuse tensions in the region, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.

"Of course, threats, risks are increasing. We shared our evaluations of unprecedented NATO plans to advance toward our borders, to draw neutral countries such as Sweden and Finland into NATO military maneuvers. We proposed launching such a trust-based, open military dialogue with our Swedish neighbors, as we already did with Finland three years ago," Lavrov told a press conference in Moscow after talks with his Swedish counterpart.

"Our Swedish colleagues promised to consider this proposal. I hope we will continue this conversation. We are ready to discuss any issues with our Swedish partners absolutely openly and transparently," he said.

For her part, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde noted that although Stockholm is increasing defense funding, this does not contradict its wish to maintain a good, trust-based relationship with its larger neighbor.

The meeting also focused on possible measures to boost regional confidence, such as transparency and openness, including on the issue of military drills, Linde said. Any military activity in the region should be undertaken with restraint and in accordance with the principles of the existing regional military architecture, she said.