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NATO Chief, Russian FM Lavrov Agree To 'Continue Contacts'

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (left) and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg meet at UN headquarters in New York in September 2016.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says he wants a more constructive relationship with Russia, even as the alliance is taking steps to respond to Moscow's increasing assertiveness.

Speaking after meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on September 25 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, Stoltenberg said, "NATO and Russia have serious disagreements on a number of issues, which make our dialogue even more important."

"Today, we discussed military posture and exercises, includingRussia´s recent exercise Vostok as well as NATO's upcoming exercise Trident Juncture," Stoltenberg said.

"I also raised NATO's concerns about Russia's ongoing aggressive actions in Ukraine, and expressed NATO's strong solidarity with the United Kingdom following the attack in Salisbury," Stoltenberg said, referring to the Novichok poisoning case in the English city of Salisbury that the West has blamed on Russia, and which Moscow has denied having anything to do with.

"Minister Lavrov and I agreed to continue our contacts," Stoltenberg concluded.

In a statement before the talks, Stoltenberg also cited Russia's support for Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, and the buildup of naval forces in the eastern Mediterranean as the main disagreements between the alliance and Moscow.

With reporting by AP
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