After an Oval Office meeting with outgoing NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, President Barack Obama declared that his administration hoped to improve ties with Russia, but that any improvement would have to be consistent with the administration’s support for expanding NATO even further.
The strained ties between Russia and NATO have in no small part been the result of the alliance’s eastward expansion. Already parts of the former Soviet Union have joined NATO, and Russia has watched with increasing concern as its neighbors in Georgia and Ukraine aspire, with US support, to join the alliance – removing any buffer between the two.
Scheffer declared, after the meeting, that “many things are going right” in Afghanistan, adding that the ongoing war in the nation was NATO’s “most important operational priority.”Scheffer’s tenure as secretary general will end in July, though who he will replaced by is not yet clear as the front-runner, Danish PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen, faces serious objections from Turkey.
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