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Russia says Libya, missile defense hinder NATO ties

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Differences over the war in Libya and missile defense plans are hindering efforts to build a strategic partnership between NATO and Russia, Russia’s foreign minister said Monday.

“The dialogue is not proceeding as easily as we expected after the Lisbon summit,” Sergey Lavrov said, referring to the meeting of Russia’s and NATO’s heads of state in the Portuguese capital in November, when the former Cold War rivals decided to forge a close partnership.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen acknowledged the differences but insisted that “the spirit of Lisbon lives on and continues to guide us. Cooperation is the best choice, partnership is the only path forward.”

Envoys from Russia and the alliance’s 28 members were in the resort city of Sochi for a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, which normally meets at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels.

Russia abstained in the U.N. vote on Libya.

and has voiced concern about civilian casualties and excessive use of force since the NATO-led air campaign against Moammar Gadhafi’s military facilities began in March.

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