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    PUTIN STRESSES RUSSIAN INTEREST IN LONG-TERM PARTNERSHIP WITH NATO

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    MOSCOW, April 8 (RIA Novosti) - President Putin has stressed Russia's interest in developing long-term relations with NATO based on partnership.

    "When accepting the NATO secretary general," Russian Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov told journalists, "Vladimir Putin stressed that Russia was strategically interested in developing partner-based relations with NATO." "This corresponds to our common interests, for both NATO member states and Russia, as we face common challenges and threats that we can only combat together," Mr. Ivanov said. He continued that in order to develop long-term partner-based relations and take account of each other's interests, it was necessary to develop mechanisms of trust that would allow predictable, transparent relations, thereby easing the concerns of both parties.

    According to Mr. Ivanov, there is every possibility that this can be achieved.

    Igor Ivanov reminded journalists that the second anniversary of the founding of the NATO-Russia council would be marked in a month. "This new structure, which opened a new page in relations between Russia and NATO means relations as equal partners," he said.

    According to him, the establishment of this council has demonstrated that cooperation is possible. "Moreover, today it is essential," he said. "In recent years, we have become convinced that, unfortunately, new threats and conflicts are emerging - the situation in Iraq, the new outbreak of violence in the Balkans, where the international community needs to take coordinated steps to prevent an upsurge in terrorism - the proliferation of WMD, and the need to search for solutions to local conflicts." He said that Russia was ready for a predictable and transparent partnership that took the interests of both sides into consideration.

    According to Igor Ivanov, the NATO secretary general completely shared President Putin's approach to Russia-NATO relations. Igor Ivanov cited Mr. Scheffer as saying that this was the key to the current reform of NATO, which is taking account of the alliance's relations with the UN, other regional organizations, such as the EU and, of course, relations with Russia.

    Mr. Ivanov said that the NATO secretary general believed that relations between the bloc and Russia should become an important element of the international security system not only for the Euro-Atlantic area, but also for the entire world.

    (swe/yon)

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