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Russia: Defense Minister Rejects NATO Officer Exchange

Brussels, 18 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - Russia today rejected a NATO proposal for an exchange of military liaison officers, deeming the idea premature. Western reports say the rejection was expressed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization by Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov, who is attending a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.

Russia believes it is not ready to go ahead with such an exchange after Rodionov took a hard line on NATO's plans to expand eastward.

In a communique issued earlier today, NATO defense ministers reaffirmed their willingness to work with Russia to set up a permanent Russian military liaison office at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Russian officers also would be posted at the headquarters of NATO's European forces at Mons, Belgium, and at Atlantic headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia. In return, NATO would send officers to corresponding Russian institutions and headquarters.