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NATO Chief in Moscow for Talks with Putin

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (l) and Vladimir Putin
NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer met with President Vladimir Putin and other top Russian officials in Moscow to discuss the fight against terrorism and other topics.

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and President Putin agreed on the need to boost cooperation in the fight against terrorism. Mr. Scheffer also raised the issue of halting the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Putin proposed joint training of specialists to combat drug trafficking and strengthening anti-drug agencies. The Russian leader and his foreign minister both told their guest that this is a serious problem in the Central Asian states that border Afghanistan, the source of 90 percent of the world's opium.

Despite the talk of cooperation, certain tensions have strained relations between Moscow and NATO for some time.

Russia has watched with concern, as the alliance moved steadily eastward, incorporating the three Baltic states that had been part of the Soviet Union.

In comments to reporters, the NATO chief seemed to downplay these concerns, saying there are often disagreements, "as sometimes happens between friends".

Before his arrival in Moscow, Mr. Scheffer said he planned to ask about the bloody crackdown to suppress an uprising in Uzbekistan last month, which has been strongly criticized in the West, but which Russia maintains was justified.

There are also differences over ratification of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, which limits the number of military forces and weapons in different parts of the continent.