NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and US President Joe Biden have discussed the relations with Russia during a meeting in Washington on Monday, the NATO chief told reporters after the talks in response to a question by TASS.
"We also discussed Russia. We agree on the dual-track approach: we need deterrence, defense and dialogue with Russia," he said.
He did not give a direct answer when asked to specify whether there will be a NATO-Russia Council session in the run-up to the upcoming NATO summit in Brussels. "Dialogue with Russia is not a sign of weakness. We are strong, we are united, and then we can talk to Russia, and we need to talk to Russia partly to strive for a better relationship," he said.
"But even if we don’t believe in a better relationship with Russia, we need to manage a difficult relationship with Russia. Arms control, transparency, risk reductions - all these issues are important," he stressed.
"I welcome the extension of the New START agreement. NATO allies have been and still are on the forefront of global arms control and nuclear arms control. We (Stoltenberg and Biden - TASS) discussed the importance of arms control and also talking with Russia," the NATO chief added.
He welcomes the fact that Biden would meet with leaders of NATO states before meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Stoltenberg said on Monday that NATO is currently holding contacts with Russia in order to convene the NATO-Russia Council at the ambassadorial level. Earlier on Monday, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on her Telegram channel that Moscow is ready to discuss de-escalation and conflict prevention with the alliance, but noted that, without the involvement of military experts, this sort of dialogue would be meaningless. This was her response to Stoltenberg’s claim that Russia provided no response to the proposal to hold a NATO-Russia Council meeting.