( dpa ) - Russia's new ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, made an unusual impression during his first meeting with the alliance's head Wednesday when he handed over an axe as a symbol of peace.
Rogozin presented NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer with "an axe, a tomahawk ... with the intention, as he said, that we should find a way to bury the hatchet, we should find a shovel," NATO spokesman James Appathurai said.
The term "burying the hatchet" stems from the native American tradition of burying a war-axe as a symbol that peace has been concluded between warring tribes.
However, Rogozin was not permitted to stroll into Scheffer's office with his steely gift. Instead, the axe entered NATO HQ separately after having been cleared through security, Appathurai said.
Rogozin has a reputation at home as an outspoken nationalist and a critic of NATO. However, he also has experience of international diplomacy, having represented Russia in talks with the European Union on the subject of the Russian outpost of Kaliningrad.He has "made it clear he comes in partnership," but at the same time has "not shied away from pointing out that there are areas of fundamental difference," Appathurai said.
Representatives of other NATO member states "are looking forward to working with him," he concluded.
NATO's relationship with Russia is currently going through a severe chill. Moscow has attacked US plans to site missile-defence weapons in Europe and accuses NATO of interfering in Kosovo and Ukraine.