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    RUSSIA READY TO COOPERATE WITH NATO AGAINST TERRORISM, SAYS DEFENSE MINISTER

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    MOSCOW, April 8, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Moscow confirms its readiness to fight against the major modern threats, terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, together with NATO, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told journalists after his talks with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on Thursday.

    According to him, "geographically, sources of these threats are usually situated outside Europe." In this connection, there is no need to deploy large troops on the European continent, he emphasized. "The response to the security threat is changing with the threat itself," the minister said.

    The architecture of European security is just being formed, he underlined.

    Scheffer in his turn said he understood "Russia's anxiety about NATO expansion." "I have come to Moscow to dissolve this anxiety," he said.

    When answering journalists' questions, the Secretary General stressed that although some NATO member states participated in the operation in Iraq, officially the organization did not have any independent role in the country. "If there is such a role, it can be defined after Iraq has received sovereignty and the UN has adopted a resolution on the issue," he explained.

    As Russia is member of the UN Security Council, its opinion will be necessarily taken into account, Scheffer emphasized.

    When asked to comment on the Ukrainian president's recent decree that allowed transit of NATO forces across the country, Scheffer denied the information that the alliance was going to deploy its forces in Ukraine.

    "NATO and Ukraine have adequate relations and NATO is watching the developments in the country," he said. This attention is due to the forthcoming elections in Ukraine, he added.

    The new NATO members will ratify the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty as soon as it is possible, Scheffer said.

    At the same time, until the Treaty is ratified, these countries "are not going to do anything that would contradict it," he pointed out.

    The Secretary General pointed out that for the Treaty to come into force "it should be ratified by all countries, including Georgia and Moldova." "Probably, the decision will be found during talks between Russia and Moldova and Russia and Georgia concerning military bases and ammunition storage in these countries, for example, in Transdniestria," Scheffer said.

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