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Russia, NATO cooperating but disagreements survive - envoy

MOSCOW. March 5 (Interfax) - While Russia and NATO are resuming their dialogue, they remain divided on issues such as the August 2008 conflict in Georgia, Permanent Russian Envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said on Thursday.

"NATO's position when they supported (Georgian President Mikheil) Saakashvili was based on the principle that (former U.S. president Ronald) Reagan formulated when he spoke about (former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio) Somoza: 'Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he is our son of a bitch,'" Rogozin told Russia's Vesti 24 channel, quoting words that are most often attributed to an earlier U.S. president, Franklin Roosevelt.

"So here as well, Saakashvili became NATO's own son of a bitch, but that is totally unacceptable. We demand an objective assessment of the conduct of the Georgian leadership in August last year," Rogozin said.

"We believe that the words that were said about us are insulting. We expect a serious analysis," the envoy said.

NATO also reproaches Russia for recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, he said.

"These grievances are being brought against us by those who have recognized the independence of Kosovo. It was them who opened the Pandora's box. Let them pay the price for this now," Rogozin said.

"But all those difference lie outside the overall interest of seeing Russia as a partner in dealing with some of the most difficult problems," he said.

As an example of fruitful cooperation, he cited the transit of nonmilitary NATO cargo to Afghanistan through Russian territory, Rogozin said.

"It is not in our interest that the Taliban should win, it is not in our interest that the coalition forces should be defeated, and so we are helping them. Helping without interfering in the military operation," Rogozin said.