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  Monday, November 18, 2019
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NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said Friday he hoped
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said Friday he hoped the NATO-Russia Council session in Bucharest, Romania, would help to overcome existing disagreements between Moscow and the alliance.

Russia has been unnerved by NATO's ongoing expansion and Washington's plans to deploy missile defense bases in Central Europe, which it says are needed to deter possible strikes from Iran and other "rogue states."

The council session will be attended by the Russian and U.S. presidents and the Danish prime minister, which are the countries that signed the Rome Declaration in 2002 on the establishment of the council.

At the session Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to discuss Russia's response to a NATO statement urging Russia to lift its moratorium on the CFE Treaty. The talks will also focus on Kosovo and missile defense in what will be Putin's last NATO meeting as president.

Russia imposed a unilateral moratorium on the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty in December 2007, amid concerns over U.S. plans to deploy a missile shield in Central Europe and NATO's ongoing expansion. Moscow has said it will resume its participation if NATO countries ratify the document.

A source in the Russian Foreign Ministry said President Putin is also expected to voice Russia's position on the bloc's decision on Thursday concerning possible NATO membership for two former Soviet states, Georgia and Ukraine.

On Thursday the 26-member bloc voted to postpone offering Georgia and Ukraine the chance to join the alliance's Membership Action Plan (MAP). However, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said that the alliance had agreed to grant admission to Ukraine and Georgia in the future.

Moscow has consistently expressed its opposition to membership of NATO for neighboring Ukraine and Georgia. President Putin had earlier threatened to retarget Russian missiles at Kiev if Ukraine joined the alliance.


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