03:18 GMT +320 June 2018
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    US Secretary of Defence James Mattis delivers a speech during a press conference following the NATO Defence Ministers' meeting at NATO headquarter in Brussels

    Mattis: NATO Will Never 'Turn Off' Dialogue With Russia Despite Tensions

    © AFP 2018 / THIERRY CHARLIER
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - NATO will never cut-off communications with Russia despite Moscow’s alleged meddling in American and European elections, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters en route to Belgium.

    "NATO will never turn off dialogue with Russia," Mattis said on Wednesday. "NATO will never turn its back on trying to make better relations with Russia."

    The prospect of improving relations between Russia and NATO are hindered by the Kremlin’s alleged interference in US and European elections and its "changing borders in Europe through the force of arms," Mattis said.

    Mattis added that Russia, from NATO’s perspective, has more in common with the alliance in terms of its future. However, it has been extremely difficult to find a common cause with Russia, Mattis said.

    NATO's defense ministers will meet on Thursday and Friday to prepare for the July summit which is focused on approving a new command structure which may boost personnel by 1,200.

    Earlier in the day, US Envoy to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said NATO defense ministers this week will focus on approving a new streamlined command structure for more rapid response and deployment of forces to crisis areas in the 29-nation alliance.

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    Tags:
    tension, dialogue, relations, NATO, Pentagon, James Mattis, United States, Russia, Belgium
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