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Stoltenberg says NATO, US want dialogue with Russia 'based on strength'

January 31, 2017, 14:59 UTC+3 BRUSSELS

NATO's increased presence in Europe is a measured and a proportional response to the behavior of Russia, according to Stoltenberg

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NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg

NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg

© AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

BRUSSELS, January 31. /TASS/. NATO and the new US administration seek neither a new Cold War nor confrontation with Russia, they want dialogue with Moscow but "based on strength," NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, said on Tuesday ahead of meeting with new Bulgarian President, Rumen Radev.

"I spoke with then President-elect Donald Trump after he was elected in November, and I also spoke with secretary of defense Mattis recently and they have all conveyed the same message that the United States will remain committed to NATO," he said. "We don’t want confrontation, we don’t want a new Cold War. We are keeping the chance for political dialog open with Russia. And the message from the incoming administration is that they also want dialog with Russia, but it’s based on strength."

"When it comes to relationships with Russia, I would like to underline that our increased presence in Europe is a measured and a proportional response to the behavior of Russia and a more assertive Russia, which has implemented a significant military buildup over many years, and which has used military force against a neighbor," Stoltenberg added.

For his part, Rumen Radev noted that "NATO’s buildup should go hand in hand with deepening political dialog with Russia. "This is necessary to avoid confrontation," he said.

NATO has begun to deploy four 1,500-stong multinational battalions to Poland and the Baltic countries, close to the border with Russia, creating weapons stockpiles in the frontier area and deploying heavy equipment there for advanced force in the event of an armed conflict. In addition to that, the US will soon begin deploying its tank brigade to Poland.

According to the alliance’s director general, the NATO member-countries are due to finalize the plans to step up its presence in the Black Sea region at the foreign ministers' meeting on February 15-16.

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