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Russia Sees NATO Contacts Restored Soon

Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia sees no obstacle to the restoration of full ties with NATO as early as next month, Russia's envoy to the alliance said after informal talks with NATO ambassadors.

"The prospect of a quick resumption of relations is now fully open.... I don't exclude that this would take place as early as the second half of February," Dmitry Rogozin told Reuters in a telephone interview from Brussels on January 26.

The NATO-Russia Council, the principal forum for cooperation between Moscow and the alliance, was suspended in August last year after NATO condemned Russia's actions during its war with Georgia, saying the response was disproportionate.

NATO foreign ministers agreed last month on a gradual resumption of contacts with Russia. But alliance officials say full normalization of ties will require a further political decision by member states.

"Everything was very constructive and we did not hit any sharp snags in our talks," Rogozin said.

"We discussed everything, including our points of disagreement, such as the reasons for, and circumstances surrounding, the conflict in the North Caucasus."

Last week, Rogozin made an explicit link between the restoration of ties and giving the alliance transit routes across Russia to ship supplies into Afghanistan, where a NATO-led force is fighting militants.