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    NATO CHIEF'S VISIT TO MOSCOW COMES AT HARD TIME-FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV

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    MOSCOW, April 8 (RIA Novosti) - The NATO Secretary-General's visit to Moscow comes at a hard time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a press conference after talks with Mr. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer Thursday.

    "The Secretary-General's visit to Moscow is proceeding, quite frankly, in difficult conditions, amidst ongoing NATO expansion," Lavrov remarked. He pointed out that the relations between Russia and NATO should be transparent. In keeping with the agreements reached by them, Russia and NATO member states interact in preventing nuclear proliferation, settling armed conflicts, and combating global terrorism, Lavrov said.

    In the minister's opinion, Russia's deeper cooperation with NATO will have a positive impact on the shaping of a system of collective security in Europe. Speaking of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, Lavrov pointed out that the newcomers to the North Atlantic alliance would have to adhere to the principles of military restraint and to eventually join the CFE accord.

    The Russian minister indicated that partnership between his country and NATO must be aimed at making security cooperation on the European continent as effective as possible.

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