Obama backs NATO expansion, pledges to improve US-Russia tiesMarch 25th, 2009 - 11:51 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, March 25 (DPA) US President Barack Obama said Wednesday he backs the expansion of NATO to European countries aspiring to join the alliance but also pledged to work towards re-invigorating US-Russian relations.
Obama, meeting with NATO Secretary General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer just a week before the alliance summit in Germany and France, also said he will present his administration’s strategic review of the mission in Afghanistan to other members.
“We expect to share that with our NATO counterparts,” Obama said.
Moscow has strongly opposed NATO expansion closer to its borders, particularly NATO’s agreement last year to eventually offer membership to Georgia and Ukraine, two former Soviet states. Obama did not mention the two countries.
“My administration is seeking a re-set of the relationship with Russia, but in a way that’s consistent with NATO membership and consistent with the need to send a clear signal throughout Europe that we are going to continue to abide by the central belief that countries who seek and aspire to join NATO are able to join NATO,” Obama said.
A larger NATO has been one of many sources of tension between the United States and Russia. Another has been US plans initiated by former president George W Bush’s administration to base a missile-defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic to counter Iran’s growing ballistic missile capabilities.
Obama has sent a letter to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev suggesting he’s willing to back off or delay the deployment if Moscow takes a tougher stance to rein in Iran’s nuclear activities.
Tags: ballistic missile capabilities, barack obama, central belief, clear signal, dmitry medvedev, european countries, former president, george w bush, jaap de hoop, missile defence system, nato expansion, nato membership, nato secretary general, nato secretary general jaap, nuclear activities, president george w bush, russian president, russian relations, secretary general jaap, soviet states