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Solana Says Russia, NATO Must Cooperate

Moscow, March 20 (RFE/RL) - NATO Secretary General Javier Solana says NATO and Moscow have to cooperate regardless of who wins the June presidential elections in Russia.

Solana told reporters today in Moscow that the results of presidential elections would n-o-t affect NATO expansion plans. Solana also said the controversial Duma decision aimed at restoring the USSR would n-o-t affect the agenda of NATO expansion eastward, but "it is not the best sign we can get."

He said the joint NATO-Russian patrols in Bosnia-Herzegovina are a breakthrough, and are helping to maintain stability in Europe.

Solana said that he is waiting for Russian reaction on documents related to closer relations between Moscow and the North Atlantic alliance. He did not give details about the drafts, but said that the documents had been sent to Russian officials.

The NATO Secretary General today holds talks with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov and Defense Minister Pavel Grachev centered on NATO's expansion plans, over which Russia has expressed concern.

Solana said he had signed today a memorandum with the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations on granting humanitarian aid to Russia in cases of natural disasters.