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Russian official dismisses NATO call to tone down rhetoric
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09:45, March 29, 2008

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Russia's ambassador to NATO dismissed on Friday NATO's call for Russian President Vladimir Putin to avoid "unhelpful rhetoric" at next week's NATO summit.

In an interview with the Financial Times published on Friday, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said he hoped the Russian leader would refrain from making anti-West comments.

"Let's try to avoid unhelpful rhetoric, like 'We will target missiles on nations A, B and C.' That is not only unhelpful, but it makes me remember a time when I was growing up when there was a Berlin Wall and an Iron Curtain," de Hoop Scheffer told the paper.

The call was branded groundless by Russian ambassador Dmitry Rogozin.

"I think he (de Hoop Scheffer) had no real grounds to say that," Rogozin told reporters on Friday.

"Which is more important in international relations -- aggressive policy or aggressive rhetoric?" he asked.

"Is Russia going to deploy any new military bases of its armed forces in Mexico or Canada; or is it negotiating on the accession of Iceland or Northern Ireland to the Warsaw Pact organization; or is Russia deploying its strategic missile defense in Mexico; or is Russia recognizing some parts of sovereign states, like Northern Ireland, Corsica, or the Basque area in Spain, irrespective of the fact that it's prohibited by international law?"

Russia is doing none of them, he said, in a veiled attack of Washington's military expansion and its policies on NATO enlargement and Kosovo.

The outspoken diplomat quipped that the NATO chief might have problems with Putin calling a spade a spade, he said.

"That will not change. He (Putin) will still call a spade a spade and we will come out with our open and frank views and descriptions on the situation in international security," he said.

"President Putin was elected by the Russian people and he is free to say whatever he wants to," said Rogozin.

Putin was invited to the NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, for a NATO-Russia Council meeting. This will be the first time that the council is held at the level of heads of state.

Source: Xinhua

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