NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Thursday he had called Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his presidential election victory, and called for NATO and Russia to reach an agreement on missile defence.
The project would see NATO install radars and missile interceptors in Eastern Europe and Turkey. Russia sees the project as a threat, despite the Western military alliance's repeated assurances that it is not directed against Moscow.
Rasmussen "congratulated Mr Putin on his return to office and said that he looks forward to continued engagement and constructive dialogue," a NATO statement said.
"He expressed his hope that it would be possible to move forward on cooperation on missile defence, as such cooperation would benefit both NATO and Russia," it added.
According to the statement, Putin "underlined his commitment to good, stable relations with NATO," and Rasmussen "thanked him for his frankness and constructive approach."
They both "agreed to meet bilaterally in the not too distant future," NATO said.
Because of the differences over missile defence, a tentative NATO-Russia summit on the sidelines of the next meeting of the military alliance's leaders -- due to take place in May in Chicago -- is still not confirmed.
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