A woman carries a buckets of water through the yard of a destroyed hospital following shelling in the town of Popasna of Lugansk region on October 1, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ANATOLII BOIKO
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NATO's new secretary-general struck a more conciliatory tone Wednesday on Russia, saying there's a chance now for improved relations between Moscow and the West.A former two-term Norwegian prime minister, Stoltenberg became the 13th secretary-general in the trans-Atlantic organization's 65-year existence.Stoltenberg was unanimously chosen as Rasmussen's successor by NATO's policy-making North Atlantic Council in March.Traditionally, a European has headed NATO's civilian headquarters in Brussels, while an American officer holds the post of the alliance's supreme military commander, beginning with Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1951-52 .Stoltenberg is the first secretary-general to hail from an alliance nation that borders Russia. Next February, he said NATO defense ministers should agree on the size and makeup of a new highly mobile "spearhead force" that could rapidly reinforce allies menaced by Russia or other threats.Stoltenberg has long been a staunch U.S. ally. He endorsed President George W. Bush's "war on terror" after the Sept. 11 attacks, backed the decision to send Norwegian troops to Afghanistan and sent Norwegian units to take part in NATO airstrikes in Libya.
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