On December 4, 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in Brussels for her ninth and final NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting, began a typically industrious day by meeting with Department of State staff and families downtown at the U.S. Embassy in Belgium. Next, she moved across town to NATO Headquarters, arriving at mid-day and meeting immediately with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. She then conducted her first bilateral meeting with her Bulgarian counterpart, Nikolay Mladenov.
Secretary Clinton then joined other NATO Foreign Ministers for a working lunch of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC), including Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, where many topics of strategic interest were discussed. Afghanistan, in particular, is an area where NATO and Russia have found ways to cooperate in recent years, through such initiatives as joint counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics officer training, helicopter training, spare parts funding for the Afghan Air Force, the NATO-Russia Cooperative Airspace Initiative, and expanded transit agreements for goods going to and from Afghanistan via Russian rail, road, and air routes.
During a press event, Secretary General Rasmussen noted that the Foreign Ministers took the opportunity to assure Minister Lavrov that any deployment of Patriot missiles in Turkey would be defensive in nature and not support a no-fly zone or any offensive operations.
Following the NRC lunch, Ministers held a North Atlantic Council (NAC) to discuss a range of NATO issues. Lady Catherine Ashton of the EU also joined to take part in discussions on Kosovo and EU cooperation. Secretary Clinton then met with her Polish colleague, Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski.