Russia questions NATO sincerity after leaks: minister

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Russia's foreign minister questioned NATO's sincerity on Thursday after leaked US cables revealed a plan to protect the Baltic states from a Russian threat, Russian news agencies reported.

"With one hand, NATO agrees with us on joint partnership but with the other hand it takes the decision that it needs to defend itself," Lavrov said at a news conference in Moscow, quoted by the Interfax news agency.

"When is NATO more sincere?" Lavrov asked. "We have asked these questions and await answers. We think we have the right."

US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks whistleblowing website and published in Western newspapers on Tuesday revealed that NATO extended an existing defence plan covering Poland to include Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Foreign ministry officials read some of the WikiLeaks documents and paid "special attention" to the report on NATO, Lavrov said.

A foreign ministry source on Tuesday had expressed puzzlement at the revelations, saying they contradicted a joint Russia-NATO declaration not to use force or threat of force against each other, signed at a November summit.

Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said at the summit last month that NATO and Russia had exorcised the ghosts of the past after they signed a declaration saying that they did not pose a threat to each other.

© 2010 AFP

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