Moscow hails E.U. force

MOSCOW, NOV. 27. Russia has welcomed the planned creation of a European rapid reaction force and offered to cooperate with the new setup in what is seen as a drive by Moscow to weaken Europe's military and political dependence on the U.S.

Speaking at a European Forum conference at the weekend, the Russian Foreign Minister, Mr. Igor Ivanov, backed the proposed establishment of a E.U. military force as a natural desire on the part of the Europeans to manage their security and defuse crises by their own forces. Mr. Ivanov raised the possibility of Russia making its contribution to E.U. operations to deal with crises.

Some Russian media interpreted the statement as Moscow's willingness to join the E.U. force. The Foreign Ministry on Monday denied the suggestion, saying that Russia was not even a member of the E.U. Nevertheless, the Ministry confirmed that Russia could take part on some operations mounted by the European forces.