NATO Secretary General George Robertson has cancelled his Feb. 16 visit
to Moscow, it was said in Moscow on Thursday.
Contrary to the usual practice, this information was not first officially
announced by the corresponding Russian Federation institutions, which confirmed
it only later after media interest at the defence and foreign ministries.
Robertson's visit has been totally cancelled, not postponed.
The NATO secretary general was to have visited Moscow at Russia's invitation
so that the cancellation, according to the Sevodnya paper, "resembles a
severe protest which calls to mind the fierce dispute between Moscow and
NATO over the bombing of Yugoslavia."
The foreign ministry said that the visit was cancelled due to disagreement
over the agenda of the talks, while the usually very open Defence Ministry
Spokesman Leonid Ivashov briefly said that the visit itself is not as important
as its results.
Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeni Gusarov said that Robertson's visit
should be realized within the unfreezing of Russian-NATO relations which
were frozen immediately after the start of the aggression on Yugoslavia
on March 24, 1999.
According to reports from Brussels, Robertson had planned to discuss
Russia's "new military doctrine" and the situation in Chechnya.