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    NATO HAS NOT RULED OUT HAVING BASES IN LATVIA

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    RIGA, February 13, 2004. (RIA Novosti )-NATO does not have plans to have military bases in Latvia, but it has not ruled out having bases there in the future.

    The Latvian media came to this conclusion after an announcement made by Admiral Sir Ian Forbes, deputy Supreme Allied Commander, Transformation, during his visit to Latvia yesterday.

    The NATO Admiral met with Latvia's Defense Minister Girts Valdis Kristovkis, Commander of the National Armed Forces of Latvia Rear-Admiral Gaidis Zeibots and other representatives of the Latvian Defense Ministry and the Seim.

    At a press conference held on Thursday night, a Latvian journalist asked Admiral Forbes if the possibility of NATO deploying a military base in Latvia was discussed during his visit and whether such a possibility existed in principle. Admiral Forbes replied that NATO has recently oriented itself on the deployment of its various structures in places they were currently required, rather than at permanent locations.

    NATO does not have any projects envisaging deployment of any of the Alliance's bases in Latvia or any other locality in that region, the admiral said. He noted that four years earlier he could not even imagine that NATO's training center would be based in Poland.

    Replying to the question about the possible deployment of NATO bases in Latvia, Gaidis Zeibots said everything depended on the concrete situation and on which issues were being discussed at the moment. "At present it is not in our plans to have any NATO military base on Latvia's territory," he said.

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