Merkel plays down Medvedev presence at NATO summit

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed Friday the presence of Russian President Dmitri Medvedev at next month's NATO summit, but warned against expecting too much.

Speaking at a joint press conference with the alliance's secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen, she said the Lisbon summit on November 20 would enable NATO and Russia to analyse the "common threats" facing them.

"It means talking of partnership," she said, while adding, "We mustn't expect too much of each other."

She said it was a "good sign" that Russia was prepared to discuss the missile shield NATO plans to install in Europe. The alliance says it is to counter feared attacks from "rogue states" such as Iran, while Russia sees it as a threat to its own deterrent.

Rasmussen said that NATO's relations with Moscow had "already improved substantially" over the past year, after the freeze that followed Russia's brief war with Georgia in August 2008.

Merkel said the NATO chief would be having further talks with Medvedev before the summit.

© 2010 AFP

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