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Moscow reiterates readiness for equal-basis cooperation with NATO

RIA Novosti

04:09 26/09/2009 NEW YORK, September 26 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian foreign minister said on Saturday that Moscow is still ready to cooperate with NATO, but only on equal-rights basis.

Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who became NATO's secretary general last month, on September 24 in New York.

"We [Russia] have confirmed our readiness to work together [with NATO] but in the spheres that really coincide with our interests... not basing on the principles of selectiveness or in the spheres defined by NATO," Lavrov said following his meeting Rasmussen, a former Danish prime minister.

The top Russian diplomat said Rasmussen once again confirmed that the issue of improving relations with Russia would be a priority in his work.

"It seems to me, Rasmussen understands that the dialogue [with Russia] must be held on an equal basis," Lavrov said.

After taking office on August 3, the new NATO chief said improving relations with Russia, which collapsed after the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia, is a top priority for the alliance.

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.

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