President Vladimir Putin of Russia has expressed the hope that the visit of NATO Secretary General George Robertson to Moscow would be conducive to universal security. According to the Russian president, the Russian government gives a positive assessment to the recent Russia-NATO relations. Receiving NATO Secretary General in the Kremlin Friday Putin confirmed once again that "on the one hand, Russia is not queuing up for NATO membership, but, on the other hand, is prepared to develop relations as far as the North-Atlantic Alliance is ready for this." Vladimir Putin thanked George Robertson for his "personal stand and activity in strengthening Russia-NATO relations." At the same time, Putin pointed out to fruitful contacts between NATO Secretary General and Russia's Security Council, the Foreign Ministry and Defence Ministry. The president said that although a little time had passed since his latest meeting with Robertson in Brussels on October 3, "NATO-Russia dialogue has been developing very efficiently over that time." According to Putin, the Russian side keeps constantly in touch with heads of leading NATO member-states and the office of the Alliance secretary general concerning the issues of developing Russia-NATO relations. Speaking about the deepening of Russia-NATO contacts, Putin noted with jokingly that he did not think that the secretary general of the North-Atlantic Alliance "would go that far", meaning Robertson's visit to one of Moscow secondary schools. According to Putin's humorous remark, he did not expect that Robertson would apply "NATO standards" to schools. Robertson noted, in turn, that he did this following the example of the Russian leader, who visited a Texas school during his visit to the USA. Noting a very cold weather in Moscow, Robertson stressed that it is fully compensated by the warm reception given to him in the Russian capital. According to the NATO Secretary General, "until a decision is made on how far" the rapprochement between the North-Atlantic Alliance and Russia will go, "it is necessary to study new ideas" of such a rapprochement since there is a need to combat a common enemy together. Robertson reminded once again that he had started his trip to Russia by visiting Volgograd and stressed that a great battle near Stalingrad reminded of the period of active cooperation between Russia and the West in the struggle against fascism. Currently, this cooperation is being resumed, he noted. At the same time, he stated the need to step up cooperation, which will "allow to justify hopes" of pupils of the school in Crawford (Texas, U.S.) and Moscow school.
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