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Stoltenberg Says NATO Wants Dialogue With Russia

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg talks to the media as he arrives for the European council of defense ministers in Brussels on November 15.

NATO wants dialogue with Russia, the chief of the alliance said ahead of talks with EU defense ministers in Brussels.

"Russia is our biggest neighbor, Russia is there to stay," Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on November 15. "And especially when tensions run high and especially when we face many different security challenges, it is important to have dialogue."

But Stoltenberg insisted that NATO "will never respect or accept the violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine."

Moscow's relations with the West have plunged to levels of acrimony unseen since the end of the Cold War following Russia's military seizure of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and an ensuing war between Kyiv's forces and Russia-backed separatists.

Stoltenberg also said he was sure that President-elect Donald Trump would meet all U.S. commitments to the alliance. "A strong NATO is important for Europe but it's also important for the United States," he said.

Trump caused concern during his election campaign when he called NATO "obsolete" and said he would withhold U.S. support from alliance members unless they increased military spending and "fulfilled their obligations" to the United States.

On November 14, President Barack Obama said he was sure Trump would stand by U.S. security commitments.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP