Russia to give 'pragmatic response' to NATO expansion: Lavrov

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Moscow, Apr 2 (UNI) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned today Moscow will give a 'pragmatic response' to NATO's eastward expansion.

''This will not be unanswered. But we will respond in a pragmatic way, not like little school boys who were hurt and fled their classroom slamming the door to weep in a solitary place,'' Mr Lavrov said, adding ''We are prepared for various scenarios.'' NATO is scheduled to discuss today setting former Soviet republics Ukraine and Georgia on the path to its formal membership.

US President George W Bush urged his European allies today in Bucharest (Romania), to meet the request of Ukraine and Georgia to join the programme paving the way to membership.

''My country's position is clear - NATO should welcome Georgia and Ukraine into the Membership Action Plan (MAP),'' Mr Bush said before the NATO summit.

However, France and Germany and some other countries have been reluctant to admit the two countries into the action plan saying they do not meet accession criteria.

They also do not want to provoke Russia, relations with which plunged to a post-Cold War low over the bloc's ongoing expansion toward its borders and US missile plans for Europe.

Outgoing Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mr Bush are to hold talks on the sidelines of the NATO summit.

UNI XC RJ PM1733

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