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Russia's NATO envoy says alliance respects Moscow's position

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NATO is now taking Russia's opinion into consideration when making decisions, a government daily on Monday quoted the country's envoy to the alliance, Dmitry Rogozin, as saying.
MOSCOW, April 7 (RIA Novosti) - NATO is now taking Russia's opinion into consideration when making decisions, a government daily on Monday quoted the country's envoy to the alliance, Dmitry Rogozin, as saying.

At a summit in Bucharest on Thursday, NATO members decided to postpone offering Georgia and Ukraine the chance to join the alliance's Membership Action Plan (MAP), but promised to review the decision in December. The ex-Soviet republics had received strong U.S. backing for their bids.

"I cannot say that the situation has turned completely to our advantage. However, Russia has become a key participant in NATO's decision making, which is a crucial result," Rogozin told Rossiiskaya Gazeta commenting on the recent summit.

The official criticized Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili for his reluctance to solve territorial disputes between two breakaway regions peacefully.

Georgia is seeking to regain control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which proclaimed independence following the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991. Tbilisi accuses Moscow of encouraging separatism and interfering in its internal affairs.

"Saakashvili wants to provoke the alliance into participating in military operations far beyond NATO's borders, in the South Caucasus. I have real doubts that the alliance needs this," Rogozin said.

He also doubted that Ukraine's leader, Viktor Yushchenko, would sit at the negotiating table with NATO leaders as an equal partner as long as George W. Bush is U.S. president.

"I don't think either it will happen in the future. Any country's accession to NATO should follow a referendum. All Ukrainians should make the decision," Rogozin said.

The Russian envoy also said Russia and the West had brought their positions closer on Afghanistan at the summit, where Moscow and the alliance agreed to allow non-lethal goods for NATO troops in Afghanistan to pass through Russian territory.

"All this is proof that we act dynamically and consistently where our interests coincide with those of the alliance," Rogozin said.

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