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NATO head meets Russian president

Saturday, November 24, 2001

MOSCOW -- With terrorism as a common enemy, Russia's president and the NATO chief on Friday explored areas where the former foes could move from consultation to cooperation between equals, edging closer to a new partnership after decades of rivalry.

"There is a sense of history," NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson told reporters after his Kremlin meeting with President Vladimir Putin. "There is a very strong sense that this is a moment of opportunity which must be seized."

While there was no talk of Russia joining the 19-nation military alliance, Robertson said he and Russian officials held "exploratory discussions to establish whether there are areas where NATO and Russia could perhaps work at 20 rather than at 19 plus one."

Relations between the Cold War foes -- severely strained by NATO's steady eastward expansion and its airstrikes in Yugoslavia in 1999 -- have warmed in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States.

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