MOSCOW, June 26 (RIA Novosti) - NATO hopes Russia will not quit the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, the alliance's secretary general told journalists Tuesday.
A problem overshadowing cooperation between Russia and NATO is the bloc's refusal to ratify an updated version of the Soviet-era CFE treaty, aimed at regulating the deployment of non-nuclear weapons on the continent.
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow that he hoped all steps would be made under the adapted CFE treaty.
Scheffer said NATO's position did not completely coincide with Russia's position. He said the CFE treaty was the cornerstone of European security and should remain so. He also said the treaty did not envision a moratorium.
Putin has threatened to impose a moratorium on Russia's participation in the crucial arms reduction accord, linking ratification delays to the planned deployment of a U.S. missile shield in Europe and the expected opening of new NATO bases in Bulgaria and Romania.
NATO states have argued that Russia should first withdraw its troops from Moldova and Georgia before the alliance's members ratify the amended CFE treaty, while Moscow insists the issues are unrelated.
The 1990 conventional armaments control treaty between the trans-Atlantic alliance and the former Warsaw Pact was updated in 1999 to reflect the realities of the post-Cold War era.
Regarding Russia-U.S. missile defense cooperation, Scheffer said Putin had given thorough information regarding proposals for the joint use of the Gabala radar in Azerbaijan.
Putin proposed earlier in June that the U.S. use the powerful radar station Russia leases from the Caucasus state to monitor possible attacks from Iran and North Korea, instead of opening installations in Central Europe, which Moscow regards as a security threat.
Scheffer said that although he was not an expert, he believed the Gabala radar would not resolve all problems related to missile threats from "rogue states."
The U.S. announced in January plans to deploy an early-warning radar in the Czech Republic and a missile interceptor base in Poland as part of its Central European missile shield.
Scheffer said Putin and his U.S. counterpart George Bush would discuss the issue at a meeting in early July.
He also said Russia's statements about targeting missiles at Europe was not appropriate to the missile defense discussion, and called on the parties to tone down the rhetoric.
"The NATO-Russia relationship is one of partnership, and in the framework of the partnership the remarks about targeting missiles are inappropriate, and they do not have a place in these
discussions," de Hoop Scheffer said.
Speaking ahead of a recent summit of the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations, Putin said the United States' mooted missile bases in Europe would be part of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and that Russia could be forced to aim its nuclear weapons at Europe.
"If part of the U.S.' strategic nuclear arsenal is located in Europe and our military experts find that it poses a threat to Russia, we will have to take appropriate retaliatory steps," he said. "We will have new targets in Europe."
Regarding Kosovo, the NATO secretary general asked the Russian leader to do everything possible to adopt a decision on the province's status.
Moscow objects to sovereignty for Kosovo, a predominantly ethnic Albanian region that has been a UN protectorate since NATO expelled Serb forces from the province in 1999, arguing that the move would violate Serbia's territorial integrity and set a dangerous international precedent for other breakaway regions, including in the former Soviet Union.
It has threatened to use its veto power on the UN Security Council to block UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari's plan granting "supervised independence" status to Serbia's predominantly ethnic Albanian province.