NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says alliance efforts to
seek re-engagement with Russia will continue despite disagreements with
Moscow over Georgia.
Speaking after an alliance defense ministers' meeting in Poland, de Hoop Scheffer said he expects NATO foreign ministers to act on the issue early next month. NATO suspended formal dialogue with Russia after Moscow sent troops into Georgia in August.
He said the allies reiterated firm support for Georgia's territorial integrity and expressed concern over Russian plans for bases in Georgia's breakaway regions - Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates again said the Obama administration review of policies in Afghanistan and Iran is delaying a decision on plans for a missile defense system in central Europe. He said the system is primarily aimed at defense against an Iranian threat and would be unnecessary if Iran halted its nuclear program.
Gates said Iran's recent launch of a satellite is evidence that the Islamic Republic is making progress in developing ballistic missiles.
Moscow strongly opposes the missile system, contending that it will undermine Russia's security.