Finally, Russia Accepts NATO

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MOSCOW: Russia made the best of a bitter situation Wednesday by finally reaching an agreement that gives the country a voice but no veto power in an expanded NATO. The deal was primarily political and is not the legally binding agreement that Russian President Boris Yeltsin had insisted on earlier. Details have not been made public, but the pact reportedly says that while NATO will not place nuclear weapons or large numbers of troops in the former Warsaw Pact countries, it retains the right to do so. Repeated is a March assertion that there are no plans to deploy nuclear weapons in the countries likely to be invited to joint NATO in July. But NATO forces would be free to conduct large-scale military exercises in the areas close to Russia, even over Russian objections. Still, the agreement did allow some face-saving room for Yeltsin, who spun the news in a different fashion. He suggested in a nationally televised interview that NATO had made major concessions and agreed not to station nuclear or conventional forces or "significant" troops on the territory of the new Eastern European members. The deal will be signed in a May 27 ceremony.