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Russia wants to resume full and open dialogue with NATO, which
Russia wants to resume full and open dialogue with NATO, which was broken off after the Russia-Georgia war, the foreign minister said on Friday.

NATO froze cooperation in protest against Russia's military operation in Georgia in August and recognition of Georgia's two separatist regions.

However, a spokesman for the Western alliance said on November 18 that the foreign ministers of the 26 NATO member countries could decide to resume the Russia-NATO Council's work at a summit in early December.

Russia's Sergei Lavrov said: "The Council's activity was frozen through no fault of our own. We believe that when our NATO partners who are blocking the resumption of its work - which is by no means all of them - are ready to resume it, we will need to get together at the Russia-NATO Council to figure everything out and see exactly what is happening, including with regard to the Council's fundamental principles, in particular the principle of undiminished security."

On the issue of Ukraine and Georgia's admission to the Membership Action Plan, which would pave the way for the post-Soviet countries to join NATO, he said many NATO foreign ministers have doubts over whether those countries "are really ready to join the alliance."

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev earlier on Friday said he was pleased by the U.S. decision not to continue its push for Georgia and Ukraine to swiftly join NATO.

Condoleezza Rice, the outgoing U.S. secretary of state, said on Wednesday that the United States would not press for membership for the two countries at a NATO summit due to take place in Brussels on December 2-3.

According to diplomatic sources, Rice had previously held extensive telephone conversations with French, German and other European NATO envoys, asking them to agree to waive the formal application process for Georgia.

The Russian president also said Georgia and Ukraine should hold national referendums to decide on their countries' NATO bids.

NATO refused at its Bucharest summit in April to grant Georgia and Ukraine admission to MAP, but promised to review the decision in December. Germany and France had voiced concerns that such a move would unnecessarily provoke Russia, which is strongly opposed to NATO expansion around its borders.


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