14:43 GMT +306 December 2019
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    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

    Trump's Talks With Putin 'Normal', NATO Wants Dialogue With Russia - Stoltenberg

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    US President-elect Donald Trump interacting with world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, ahead of his inauguration is normal practice, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday.

    This April 2, 2009 file photo shows shadows cast on a wall decorated with the NATO logo and flags of NATO countries in Strasbourg, eastern France, before the start of the NATO summit which marked the organisation's 60th anniversary.
    © AFP 2019 / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen
    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Stoltenberg evoked Trump's campaign stump statements saying he is a "big fan" of NATO, and called for Europe to "step up" its spending on defense.

    "I think it is a very normal thing that President-elect Donald Trump speaks to world leaders, including of course the leader of Russia," Stoltenberg told reporters on arrival for the second day of the EU Foreign Affairs Council.

    He added that NATO's message is "we want dialogue with Russia."

    "Russia is our biggest neighbor, Russia is there to stay, and especially when tensions run high, especially when we face many different security challenges, it is important to have chance for political dialogue open with Russia," Stoltenberg stressed. "There's no contradiction between strong defense and political dialogue."

    Late Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin held his first phone conversation with US President-elect Donald Trump.


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