Putin jokes about re-naming NATO STAFF HQ

Upon the conclusion of a ceremony to sign the Rome declaration at the Italian military base in Pratica-Di-Mare, Russian President Vladimir Putin jokingly proposed that Nato HQ be renamed "Dom Sovietov" (a play on words in Russian referring to the word for "council" and a Soviet era establishment).

The president thanked everyone at the summit, remarking that Russia understood very well how relations with Russia were changing and that the creation of the new Russia-Nato Council reflected this. Russia senses this attention and is conscious of its responsibility in regard to it, the Russian head of state said.

Putin said that he had shared many jokes with Nato Secretary General George Robertson at today's session. He pointed to the fact that the Russia-Nato Council would work in Brussels and then proposed with a smile that Nato HQ be re-named Dom Sovietov.

A RIA Novosti correspondent reports that this suggestion was met with good-natured laughter.

Robertson then humorously replied that it was lucky that he was the chairman and would formalise the joke if he received Putin's words in official documents.

The summit has finished its work. Its attendees will now sit down to an official dinner, which will be followed by a press-conference featuring the Russian leader, Robertson and the chairman of the Italian Council of Ministers.

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