NATO looks to deepen ties with Georgia, Ukraine

             By Diyar Guldogan</p>    <p>ANKARA (AA) - NATO looks forward to deepening partnerships with Georgia and Ukraine, the bloc’s chief said on Tuesday.</p>    <p>&quot;NATO is proud of unique and distinct partnerships we have with Georgia and with Ukraine and we look forward to deepening them further,&quot; Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in his opening remarks at the North Atlantic Council session with Georgia and Ukraine. </p>  <p>The two-day NATO Foreign Ministers' meeting will address a wide range of security challenges, including Russia, extremism in the Middle East and North Africa, and continuing instability in Afghanistan.</p>    <p>Stoltenberg said NATO fully supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of both countries and the alliance will continue to provide strong support for both Georgia and Ukraine.</p>    <p>&quot;NATO allies do not and will not recognize Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea,&quot; he said.</p>    <p>Stoltenberg reiterated his call on Russia to ensure freedom of navigation and release the Ukrainian sailors and ships that it seized &quot;without delay&quot;.</p>    <p>On Nov. 25, Russia seized two Ukrainian navy ships and a navy tugboat along with 23 crew members off Crimea, accusing Kiev of entering its waters and provoking a conflict. </p>    <p>On Wednesday, the ministers will hold a meeting on the Western Balkans with the participation of Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.</p>    <p>A meeting of all nations contributing to the Resolute Support training mission in Afghanistan will conclude Wednesday's session.</p>    <p>Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu -- who represents Turkey during the meeting -- is expected to have bilateral talks with his counterparts.