NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Source: Press TV
NATO has flatly turned down a Russian proposal on the Western military alliance's plans to deploy a disputed missile system in Eastern Europe.
Moscow has indicated its willingness to drop its opposition to the installation of the missile system if NATO provides legal guarantees that the missiles would not be used against Russia.
"The most promising path towards greater trust is more discussion, more political debate and exchange,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in an interview with Interfax news agency released on Tuesday, AFP reported.
Rasmussen ruled out “complicated legal formulas which would be difficult to agree on and ratify” between the NATO member states and the Kremlin.
The refusal comes ahead of a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council in Brussels on Wednesday where Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov will seek to convince his Western counterparts to sign a legally binding cooperation treaty.
Moscow wants details about the maximum amount and types of interceptor missiles, their speed as well as locations for missiles and radars to be specified in the treaty.
In 2010, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev talked with NATO leaders at a summit in Lisbon, Portugal, in a landmark meeting held to end long-standing hostilities between the two sides.
But the Western bloc rejected Medvedev's idea of dividing the European continent into sectors of military responsibility, insisting the two sides should keep their systems separate.
In his Interfax interview, Rasmussen reiterated that the two sides should not merge their systems.
"The reason is simple -- NATO cannot outsource to non-members collective defense obligations which bind its members," he argued.
Rasmussen, however, stressed that NATO's eastward expansion did not threaten Russia's interests, but on the contrary "the process itself has been beneficial to Euro-Atlantic security, including that of the Russian Federation."
"I can also assure you -- and I have said it publicly on many occasions -- that NATO will never attack Russia and we are convinced that Russia sees the alliance in the same light," he said.