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Albright Proposes Joint NATO-Russian Charter

By Steve Hurst/CNN


BRUSSELS (Feb. 18) -- In a major olive branch to Moscow, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called today for construction of "a joint NATO-Russian brigade" in a new association that would see Russian and NATO planners working jointly at "major military commands" in Europe.

In a speech to NATO foreign ministers, Albright also declared the need for a meeting this spring of the 16 NATO members plus Russia to conduct a new round of talks with countries which wish to join the NATO alliance.

The 16-member military grouping, established after World War II to blunt Soviet expansion, plans to invite Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic to become members at a summit in Madrid this July.


Moscow vigorously opposes the expansion of the alliance on the grounds that inclusion of former Soviet satellite countries threatens Moscow's security.

NATO has been attempting to calm Russia's fears ever since it announced plans to expand three years ago and declared Moscow would have no right of veto. Russian President Boris Yeltsin warned that expansion could produce a cold peace to replace the Cold War.

The United States wants to construct a NATO-Russian Charter to regularize relations between the alliance and Moscow and Albright's speech on Tuesday in Brussels marked a major step toward that goal. It was not known, however, how Russia will react.

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