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Russia: Putin Says Problems Still Remain With NATO

Moscow, 16 February 2000 (RFE/RL) - Acting President Vladimir Putin says Russia is ready to develop ties with NATO but that current problems in relations are difficult to resolve. Putin made the comments as he entered closed-door talks with visiting NATO Secretary-General George Robertson. Russia suspended its regular consultations with the alliance in response to NATO air strikes in Yugoslavia during the Kosovo crisis last year. Relations have been further strained by the Chechen conflict -- with NATO accusing Moscow of using excessive force. Earlier today, Robertson met with Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. Sergeyev said he viewed Robertson's visit as a chance to find common points, despite the issues dividing the two sides. Ivanov said both NATO and Moscow should make an equal contribution to overcome tensions in relations.