Russia dismisses NATO membership suggestions
MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow dismissed on Thursday comments by a U.S. administration official suggesting that Russia could become a member of NATO.
Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon said on Tuesday that Washington would consider Russian membership in the military alliance, which was founded in 1949.
He said NATO should be open to European democracies, adding that "if Russia meets the criteria and can contribute to common security, and there is a consensus in the alliance, it shouldn't be excluded."
Russia's envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said Gordon's comments "are not serious enough" and that the U.S. was trying to "take advantage of our weaknesses" to advance into a territory "that we once occupied or controlled or influenced."
He also said NATO would never be able to reach a consensus on Russia's membership as long as former Soviet republics Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania were members.
Russia has repeatedly stated that it has no intention of joining the alliance even if it was invited, and is quite happy with cooperation in the framework of the Russia-NATO Council.
Rogozin also said NATO's new secretary general could visit Russia some time in the fall.
"I believe that it will take place before the end of the year. My feeling is that [Anders Fog] Rasmussen will visit us in October or November," he said.
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