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Russian FM Lavrov urges flexible world alliances

LOS ANGELES, September 26 (RIA Novosti) - New flexible alliances are needed to resolve international problems more efficiently, unlike the alignments of the Cold War era, which are no longer capable of responding to changing realities, Russia's foreign minister said.

"Specific flexible alliances are needed now, instead of the traditional permanent blocs," Lavrov told the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles Monday (Tuesday Moscow time).

Lavrov said NATO sometimes demonstrates a narrow approach to global issues.

"A narrow approach common to [existing] blocs does not contribute to the resolution of current problems, but rather creates new ones," he said, citing an agreement on conventional armed forces in Europe as evidence.

An amended version of the original Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty was signed by 30 CFE countries November 19, 1999. The agreement removes the bloc-to-bloc and zone limits of the original treaty, replacing them with a system of national and territorial limits.

However, the United States and its NATO allies said that they will not ratify the treaty until Russia first complies with its new weapons limits, and its political, not legal, commitments under the CFE Final Act. These include the withdrawal of its treaty-limited weapons from Georgia and Moldova.

The original Cold War-era treaty therefore remains in effect.

"Such an absurdity, which is incapable of providing equal security for all European countries, cannot last long," he said. "It affects our security and the new atmosphere of trust in Russian-U.S. relations, which we have been creating jointly with the United States."

NATO has expanded to include many of Russia's former Communist-bloc allies in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in the Baltic Region. And a NATO ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the 61st General Assembly meeting in New York decided to step up a dialogue with Georgia with the aim of admitting the Caucasus state next year.

Russia has been anxious about the encroachment of NATO bases nearer to its borders. But it has continued, along with other post-Soviet states, to cooperate with the alliance under the Partnership for Peace program by participating in joint exercises and other events.

Last week Lavrov called on NATO to evolve from a military alliance into a more universal political organization.

"We hope NATO will make the transformation from a defensive alliance into a more modern organization, animated by the principles of transparency and a collective response [to problems] on a universal legal basis," he said.