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Stop seeing West as threat, NATO chief tells Russia

Russia should stop seeing the West as a threat, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Thursday, as he called for a new partnership between Moscow and the transatlantic alliance.

world Updated: Dec 17, 2009 20:53 IST

Russia should stop seeing the West as a threat, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Thursday, as he called for a new partnership between Moscow and the transatlantic alliance.

Relations between Russia and NATO plunged to a post-Cold War low after Russia's August 2008 war with Georgia, but Rasmussen has made improving ties a priority since coming to office in August.

"Let me make a very clear statement as secretary general of NATO. NATO will never attack Russia. Never," Rasmussen said in a speech to students at the country's top diplomatic university. "And we don't think Russia will attack us either. We have stopped worrying about this and Russia should stop worrying about this as well," he told the students.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created at the start of the Cold War under the principle of collective defence, whereby members would jointly respond to any attack by an aggressor, at that time feared to be the Soviet Union.

If trust can be built between Moscow and NATO "then Russia can stop worrying about a menace from the West that simply doesn't exist," Rasmussen added. "She can put her resources into defending against the real threats this country faces -- like terrorism, extremism, proliferation of missiles and weapons of mass destruction or drug trafficking."