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NATO chief urges Russia to stop 'unhelpful rhetoric'

by Staff Writers
Abu Dhabi (AFP) Jan 24, 2008
NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer urged Russia on Thursday to abandon "unhelpful rhetoric" and talk through its differences with the alliance.

"From time to time, we hear rhetoric coming from Moscow which I do think is unhelpful," said Scheffer on a visit to the United Arab Emirates -- the first by a NATO chief.

"We have our differences ... These differences are fundamental and I take them seriously... because I think between NATO and Russia there is no alternative but to engage," he said, citing differences over Kosovo and US missile defence plans.

"The Russians also do not have an alternative but to engage... Let's do away with unhelpful rhetoric," he added.

On Wednesday, NATO said that it had invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to join alliance leaders at a summit in Bucharest on April 2-4.

Putin joined a first NATO-Russia summit in 2002, but there has so far been no repetition.

Russia has suspended a key Cold War-era arms pact in protest at the refusal of NATO nations to ratify it. US missile defence plans endorsed by the alliance are also complicating ties, as is Russia's strong opposition to independence for Kosovo from Serbia.

Adding to the tensions, Russian bombers recently resumed flights near Scandinavian countries, prompting aircraft to scramble to intercept them.

Such flights were standard during the Cold War, but were abandoned in 1992 amid the financial crisis that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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Walker's World: China or Russia?
Washington (UPI) Jan 21, 2008
It was a relief for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to have been feted in Beijing over the weekend when his opinion poll ratings back home were plunging and his country's relationship with Russia was dropping just as fast back into a chill reminiscent of the Cold War.

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