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Published: Monday March 31, 2014 MYT 12:55:02 AM
Updated: Monday March 31, 2014 MYT 12:55:53 AM

Top NATO commander cuts short U.S. visit, eyes on Russian troops

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has sent America's top general in Europe back early from a trip to Washington in what a spokesman on Sunday called a prudent step given Russia's "lack of transparency" about troop movements across the border with Ukraine.

General Philip Breedlove, who is both NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe and the head of the U.S. military's European Command, had been due to testify before Congress this week. He arrived in Europe Saturday evening.

"(Hagel) considered Breedlove's early return the prudent thing to do, given the lack of transparency and intent from Russian leadership about their military movements across the border," Rear Admiral John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, told Reuters.

"More broadly, he felt it was important for Gen. Breedlove to continue our efforts to consult with NATO allies, and to discuss specific ways to provide additional reassurance for our NATO allies in Eastern Europe."

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Jim Loney)

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