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NATO urges Russia to lift moratorium on CFE arms reduction pact

RIA Novosti

29/03/2008 13:03 MOSCOW, March 29 (RIA Novosti) - NATO has issued a statement urging Russia to consider United States proposals on the CFE arms reduction treaty, and warning that Moscow's moratorium on the pact could undermine European security.

Russia imposed a unilateral moratorium on the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty in December 2007, amid concerns over U.S. plans to deploy a missile shield in Central Europe and NATO's ongoing expansion. Moscow has said it will resume its participation if NATO countries ratify the document.

The NATO statement released on Friday said: "We urge the Russian Federation to end its 'suspension', and to work with us to reach agreement on the basis of the parallel actions package so we can together preserve the benefits of this landmark regime."

The package on measures to allay Russia's concerns on the treaty was proposed by Washington in fall last year, and supported by all other NATO members.

"All Allies are committed to this far-reaching package, which includes resolution of Russia's commitments related to the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, and are ready to join with Russia in its implementation," the statement said.

The trans-Atlantic military alliance earlier said its member nations would not ratify the adapted CFE until after Russia withdraws its military bases from ex-Soviet republics Georgia and Moldova.

"Russia's 'suspension' risks eroding the integrity of the CFE regime and undermines the cooperative approach to security which has been a core of the NATO-Russia relationship and European security for nearly two decades," NATO said.

The Russian and U.S. leaders are set to discuss the CFE treaty along with controversial U.S. plans to deploy missile defense elements in Poland and the Czech Republic when they meet in Romania and Sochi next month.

George W. Bush said on Wednesday he had accepted Vladimir Putin's invitation to visit his holiday residence in Sochi on the Black Sea on April 6 after the April 2-4 NATO summit in Romania.

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