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Russia: Primakov 'Cautiously Optimistic' About NATO Talks

Oslo, 24 February 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov said today he is cautiously optimistic about negotiations on the controversial issue of NATO's eastward expansion. Primakov spoke following his arrival in Norway for a two-day visit during which he will meet high-ranking Norwegian officials to discuss NATO enlargement, which Moscow strongly opposes.

Primakov arrived in Oslo from Brussels, where he held talks with NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana yesterday.

Meanwhile there are reports from Brussels today that NATO and Russia have already begun drafting the text of a framework agreement on future relations.

Western news agencies quote unnamed NATO officials as saying that a delegation traveling with Primakov had remained behind in Brussels to work on the document.

NATO has said it will not let Moscow have a veto over who can join the alliance. But it has offered a range of measures to try to reassure Russia that the admission of former Warsaw pact countries will not be a security threat.

Other issues likely to come up were the Middle East peace process and Yugoslavia as well as bilateral cooperation in the Arctic.