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NATO Seeks Clarification Of Putin's Remarks On CFE

Journalists watch Vladimir Putin's speech on television today (AFP) April 26, 2007 -- NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is seeking clarification of Russian President Vladimir Putin's call for a moratorium in Russia's compliance with the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty.

Responding to comments Putin made during his annual address to parliament today, de Hoop Scheffer said NATO remains committed to the CFE, which limits military deployments across Europe.

Putin said Russia would freeze its compliance with the CFE Treaty because NATO members have not ratified the pact and are not abiding by its provisions.

In remarks to reporters today at a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Oslo, de Hoop Scheffer said he expects Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov "to explain the words of his president."

The CFE Treaty was signed in 1990 by members of NATO and the former Warsaw Pact. It was modified in 1999 after the breakup of the Warsaw Pact and expansion of NATO. Only four countries -- Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine -- have ratified the revised treaty.

NATO members say they will ratify the new version of the treaty once Russia meets commitments it made in 1999 to withdraw its forces from Georgia and Moldova.

(AFP, Reuters, dpa)