Vladimir Putin To Receive NATO Secretary General George Robertson In Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin will receive NATO Secretary General George Robertson in the Kremlin on Friday. The negotiations will focus on imparting a new quality to Russia-NATO relations, deepening cooperation in combating terrorism and countering new challenges. Moscow believes that the sides should go over from "19 plus 1" cooperation format to the "20" format. This will allow all participants to work out and adopt joint decisions on an equal basis. The initiative of British Prime Minister Tony Blair to abrogate the existing format of relations within the framework of Russia-NATO permanent joint council and set up a new council -- "Russia-North Atlantic Alliance" will be thoroughly considered at the negotiations. On Thursday, during his meeting with members of international affairs committees of both houses of the Federal Assembly, Vladimir Putin confirmed Russia's readiness to make its position closer to that of NATO in many areas. According to the president, this rapprochement, taking into account Russia's national interests, may go as far as the North-Atlantic Alliance is ready for this. At the same time, Putin declared that Russia is not going to queue up for NATO membership.

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