BRUSSELS : Come One, Come All

In a historic meeting at NATO headquarters Wednesday, defense ministers from 15 of the 16 NATO countries (excluding France) will get together for the first time as "cooperation partners" with representatives of 14 former Soviet republics (all but Georgia) and five former Soviet satellites of Central and Eastern Europe.

The goal of the session is to help the former Soviet Bloc members reshape their armed forces along more traditionally Western lines and to see them put firmly under civilian control.

The process will continue April 10 with another first: a meeting of NATO chiefs of staff with their counterparts from the former adversaries to the East.

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