NATO's new secretary general says only a strong Western alliance can negotiate better ties with Russia.

Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday that his experience as Norway's prime minister was that robust defense capabilities and a strong trans-Atlantic bond were fundamental to bring about constructive relations with Russia.

In his first policy speech since taking office Oct. 1, Stoltenberg said there was no contradiction between wanting to keep NATO strong and continuing to attempt to engage with the leadership of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"NATO is here to say. Russia is here to say. So we're going to have some kind of relationship," Stoltenberg said. The question, he said, is "what kind."