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NATO chief pledges new 'chapter' in ties with Russia - Rogozin

RIA Novosti


BRUSSELS, August 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's NATO envoy said on Tuesday the new secretary general of the alliance had reaffirmed his commitment to ending the "dark chapter" in the history of relations with Russia.

"Mr. [Anders Fogh] Rasmussen thoroughly studied the Russia-NATO dossier, which is yet further confirmation of his earlier pledge to end the dark chapter in our relations and promote extensive cooperation between NATO and Russia," Dmitry Rogozin said after a meeting with the secretary general.

Ties between Moscow and the Western military bloc were frozen after last August's war with Georgia.

NATO and the West condemned Russia's "excessive" use of force against Georgia and its recognition of two breakaway regions. Moscow, long concerned about the bloc's ongoing expansion, accused NATO of nurturing Georgian aggression.

Russia and the West have since made moves to mend their relations.

Rasmussen, a former Danish prime minister, who took office on August 1, vowed to make cooperation with Moscow a top priority.

News agencies quoted NATO spokeswoman Carmen Romero as saying in comments on the meeting that Rasmussen sought strategic partnership between NATO and Russia.

"We have differences on some issues, but we cannot allow them to overshadow the strategic cooperation," Romero said.

Speaking live on Vesti-24 channel, Rogozin said they had discussed the entire agenda for cooperation within the Russia-NATO Council - a body set up to improve ties between the former Cold War foes - at the meeting at the NATO headquarters earlier on Tuesday.

Rogozin said they could resume discussions on arms control in Europe, another point of contention between Moscow and NATO, in the fall, and agreed to hold consultations on Afghanistan shortly.

He said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had invited Fogh Rasmussen to meet in September in New York.

"I have handed Mr. Rasmussen the invitation," he said adding the meeting would focus on preparations for the NATO chief's visit to Moscow, which was likely to take place before the end of the year.

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