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NATO: Russia And Switzerland Reject NATO As Security Guarantor

Moscow, 13 May 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov says that both Russia and Switzerland reject NATO as the primary guarantor of European security. He said NATO could play some role in Europe, but that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) should be given priority. Primakov made the comment following talks today in Moscow with his Swiss counterpart, Flavio Cotti.

Primakov said neither Russia nor Switzerland favor Europe's security being based on "NATO's expansion and some special interstate relations, resulting from this expansion."

Cotti, who arrived earlier today on a one-day working visit, told a gathering at the Russian Foreign Ministry's Diplomatic Academy that ensuring European security was impossible without Russian input. Cotti said Europe must create a completely new security structure as it enters the next century that will guarantee not only general security across the continent but for each individual state as well.

NATO Secretary General Javier Solana arrived in Moscow today for a further round of talks with Primakov on an accord defining Russia's future relations with the Alliance.

Primakov said he wished today's meeting with Solana would be the last one but added that "not everything depends" on Russia.

Primakov was speaking after talks with Cotti. In a phone conversation with Cotti, Russian President Boris Yeltsin touched upon NATO's planned expansion.

Yeltsin also discussed in separate phone calls with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and British Prime Minister Tony Blair key issues of the forthcoming Primakov-Solana talks.

NATO is expected to invite the first group of new members to join at a July summit in Madrid. Russia has said it wants to sign an accord with the Alliance ahead on May 27, before the Madrid summit.

In a declaration published in a Moscow newspaper today, the influential Russian Advisory Council on Foreign and Defense Policy said however it would be unwise for the Kremlin to rush into signing an agreement with NATO and that instead it may be better to prolong negotiations.

Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov and U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen have begun talks in Washington on NATO alliance expansion and improving bilateral military ties.

Rodionov is making his fourth trip to the United States, but this is his first meeting with Cohen, who became defense secretary in January. Cohen hosted a formal welcoming ceremony for Rodionov earlier today. They are scheduled to hold a joint press conference later.

Rodionov is also due to have talks with President Bill Clinton's national security adviser, Samuel Berger. Tomorrow, he is to meet with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.