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Russia hails U.S. 'common sense' over Georgia, Ukraine NATO bids

RIA Novosti

28/11/2008 09:18 HAVANA, November 28 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressed satisfaction on Friday with a U.S. decision not to push for Georgia and Ukraine's fast-track membership of NATO.

Condoleezza Rice, the outgoing U.S. secretary of state, said on Wednesday the United States would not press for membership for the two countries at a NATO summit starting next week.

"I am pleased that common sense has prevailed, regrettably at the end of the present administration's work. This indicates the current state of affairs. The most important thing is that this idea is not being pushed forward relentlessly and absurdly - as it has been for the past several years," Medvedev said during a visit to the Cuban capital, Havana.

According to some sources, Condoleezza Rice had earlier had extensive telephone conversations with French, German and other European envoys, asking them to agree to waive the formal application process for Georgia and NATO.

The Russian president also said Georgia and Ukraine should conduct national referendums to decide on their respective NATO bids.

At the Brussels NATO summit, due to take place on December 2-3, NATO ministers are to assess the readiness of Ukraine and Georgia for Membership Action Plans, a key step for membership in the 26-nation military alliance.

NATO refused at its Bucharest summit in April to grant Georgia and Ukraine action plans, but promised to review the decision in December. The countries had received strong U.S. backing for their bids. However, concerns by Germany and France that doing so would unnecessarily antagonize Russia won the day. Russia is strongly opposed to NATO expansion around its borders.

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