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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

NATO Accuses Russia of Posturing Over Deal

BRUSSELS -- NATO accused Russia on Friday of posturing after Moscow's foreign minister stalled on a cooperation deal in protest at alliance plans to extend membership to eastern European countries and said it would not change its plans in the light of Russian objections.

"We are not ready to change one single word or NATO's decision," NATO secretary general Willy Claes told a news conference, referring to the alliance announcement Thursday that it would make a one-year internal study of the mechanics of enlarging NATO eastward.

Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev stunned NATO on Thursday by refusing to endorse a partnership programme because Moscow wanted "clarification" of the NATO announcement.

But NATO sources and U.S. officials said the Russians had been told in advance what was going to be in the communique.

"We have not done anything which is a surprise ... which goes beyond what we have told them that we're doing, and it is in their interests to agree these documents, so that we can get down to real business and stop posturing," said one NATO source.

Claes said he was confident Russia would reach an agreement with NATO and said Kozyrev had clarified that he had no problem with any part of the partnership texts but wanted more time to analyze answers given to him by the alliance about its enlargement plans.

U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, who held a 75-minute meeting with Kozyrev on Friday morning, added: "I wouldn't make too much of what happened yesterday."

"I think ultimately the Russians will agree that our timetable for expansion is a deliberate one, a cautious one, a sound one," he told CBS television.

German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said he regretted the incident, which he said had to be viewed in the context of Russia's domestic political situation, but he was confident that Russia would sign the accords very soon.

British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd also played it down, saying: "I think the partnership between Russia and NATO is too important for Russia and too important for NATO to get lost."

But a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Georgy Karasin, told reporters Kozyrev "wanted to get an idea of what NATO evolution will be because Russia has to clearly understand the strategy and concept of NATO."