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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

NATO Chief Urges Riga on Citizenship

TALLINN, Estonia -- NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana on Thursday urged Latvia to approve legal amendments easing citizenship requirements for its large Russian minority, thus easing tensions with Moscow.

Solana was on three-day tour of the former Soviet republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, all of which aspire to membership in the Western military alliance.

At the end of his six-hour stop in the Latvian capital, Riga, Solana said one issue he raised with Prime Minister Guntars Krasts was citizenship for the Russian minority.

There are about 700,000 ethnic Russians in the country of 2.6 million, and many have failed to pass tough requirements for citizenship. Moscow accuses Latvia of prejudice against the Russians, most of whom moved to the Baltic country during its years under Soviet rule. Russia has threatened sanctions over the treatment.