LONDON: NATO’s chief called Wednesday for an “open minded and unprecedented dialogue” with Russia to reduce security tensions in Europe and confront common threats.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who took over the top job last month, said he wanted to begin an “open and frank conversation (with Moscow) that creates a new atmosphere.”
“Russia should realise that NATO is here and that NATO is a framework for our transatlantic relationship,” he told the Financial Times in an interview published Wednesday.
“But we should also take into account that Russia has legitimate security concerns,” he said.
Although differences remained between the two sides, he said he had a “vision” of a “true strategic partnership” in which both sides collaborated on Afghanistan, terrorism and piracy.
He said he was prepared to discuss a proposal from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for a new security architecture in Europe.
“I have an open mind as regards the Medvedev proposal. If such a dialogue could create more confidence and take into account legitimate Russian security concerns, it could be very fruitful.”
Ties between Moscow and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation hit a post-Cold War low last August when Russia and NATO hopeful Georgia briefly went to war. However, the alliance and Moscow agreed in June to resume political and military cooperation.
Georgia is seeking to join the alliance, but Moscow is deeply suspicious of NATO’s expansion eastward.
When he took the NATO helm, Rasmussen, the former Danish prime minister, made Afghanistan and Russia relations his top priorities for his four-year mandate.