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NATO Secretary General on Russia Relations: 'We Will Avoid New Cold War'

© REUTERS / Yves HermanNATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg gestures during a news conference ahead of a NATO defense ministers meeting, which will be held on February 10-11, at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 9, 2016.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg gestures during a news conference ahead of a NATO defense ministers meeting, which will be held on February 10-11, at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 9, 2016. - Sputnik International
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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg claims that NATO desires to have more cooperative relations with Russia.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) desires to have more cooperative relations with Russia, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a speech at the Atlantic Council on Wednesday.

"NATO is not seeking confrontation with Russia. We will avoid a new Cold War," Stoltenberg stated. "Actually, we are striving for more cooperative and constructive relationship with Russia."

Stoltenberg also noted that the NATO-Russia Council has never been discontinued amid tensions over the Ukrainian conflict as the alliance and Moscow maintained a political dialogue.

“The NATO-Russia Council has never been suspended. Actually we had two meeting in the council after the annexation of Crimea. So the whole idea is that practical cooperation has been suspended, political dialogue has been in place,” Stoltenberg said.

In this June 18, 2015,file photo flags wave in front of soldiers who take positions with their army vehicles during the NATO Noble Jump exercise on a training range near Swietoszow Zagan, Poland - Sputnik International
Stoltenberg: NATO Must Increase Efforts to Assist Local Forces
“The challenge now has been not to have the NATO-Russia Council, because it has been there all the time, but the challenge has been to agree on the agenda for a new meeting. And we are in a process of discussing that with Russians, and hopefully we’ll be able to agree on the agenda and then to convene a meeting,” Stoltenberg stated.

Stoltenberg also stressed that the Turkish downing of the Russian Su-24 jet last November highlights the importance of keeping military dialogue open between NATO and Russia.

"The downing of the Russian plane over Turkey just underlines how important it is that we do our utmost to have military-to-military communications, transparency, predictability, to avoid [those] kinds of incidents," Stoltenberg stated.

The Secretary General emphasized that it is in NATO’s interest to talk to Russia on issues, "especially risk reduction… related to military activity."

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