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NATO: Solana Dispels Expansion Fears In Japan

Tokyo, 15 October 1997 (RFE/RL) - NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, on a two-day visit to Japan, sought today to dispel fears that NATO's expansion into Central and Eastern Europe could harm Asian security.

Speaking at a conference in Tokyo, Solana said some Asian leaders fear that NATO expansion might lead Russia to increase security ties with China. He said others in Asia fear that if NATO and Russia grow closer, China might feel threatened.

Solana said neither fear is legitimate, arguing expansion will create a more stable Europe which will benefit all. And he said that good NATO-Russian relations will make for a more stable Russia, which is in Asia's interest.

Solana also held talks today with Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, with the two reportedly agreeing to increase contacts between NATO and Japan. Solana is due to depart Japan tomorrow.