. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

German Official Says Russia Set to Intensify NATO Talks

BONN -- Russia is ready to intensify talks with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on an eastward enlargement of the Western military alliance, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel has said.

Kinkel, who will be hosting Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov in Bonn on Wednesday and Thursday, said Sunday that Moscow had signaled it was ready to "enter concrete talks on a charter to comprehensively regulate cooperation with NATO."

Primakov told an alliance meeting in Berlin in June that Moscow could live with enlargement, suggesting it would be acceptable as long as no troops or weapons were stationed on the territory of new members.

Kinkel told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, according to an advance release from Monday's edition of the newspaper, that, since the Berlin meeting, Russia's comments on enlargement had taken on a "new quality."

"The intensified dialogue which we offered Russia on all these questions begins now," he said.

While in Bonn, Primakov will also meet Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who returns Wednesday from a trip to Ukraine.

Kohl heads off again Saturday for a meeting with Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are in the forefront of former communist countries now pushing to join NATO.

The three Baltic republics are also keen to join, but NATO has been cooler on the prospect of admitting them soon because of Russian sensitivities about seeing NATO come into what Moscow considers its backyard.