by IANS |
Brussels, Jan 13 (IANS) Talks between representatives of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and Russia concluded without a clear outcome, with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg describing the differences between the two sides as "significant" and "will not be easy to bridge".
"This was not an easy discussion," he told journalists after the four-hour meeting on Wednesday, Xinhua news agency reported.
"But that is exactly why this meeting was so important. We had a very serious and direct exchange on the situation in and around Ukraine. And the implications for European security. There are significant differences between NATO allies and Russia on these issues. Our differences will not be easy to bridge."
He said that the silver lining was that "all NATO allies and Russia sat down around the same table and engaged on substantive topics".
"NATO allies are ready to meet again with Russia to have discussions in greater detail, to put concrete proposals on the table and seek constructive outcomes," Stoltenberg added.
"We are clear-eyed about the challenges we face when we now sit down with Russia and try to find a political way forward. But the meeting was useful. And I think that, especially when tensions are high, it is even more important that we meet, and that all allies and Russia meet and sit around the same table and address the issues that are of concern," he said.
Asked about Russia's request for Ukraine not to become a member of NATO, Stoltenberg
said, "Allies totally agree that it is only Ukraine and 30 allies that can decide when the former is ready to become a NATO member. No one else has anything to say and of course, Russia doesn't have a veto on whether Ukraine can become a NATO member."