MOSCOW (REUTER) - Russia and NATO say they have started down a long and winding road towards agreement on a new relationship, despite failing to settle differences over the Western alliance`s enlargement plans. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov met for five hours at an official residence outside Moscow on Monday but they agreed only that negotiations would continue and that they would be hard. Officials in Brussels, where NATO has its headquarters, agreed that the two sides remained far apart. Relations are soured by disagreement over NATO`s plans to take in former Soviet bloc countries from eastern and central Europe. Moscow says such expansion into the former Soviet bloc would threaten its security and cause new divisions in Europe. Little time remains for reaching an understanding before a July summit in Madrid at which NATO is expected to issue invitations to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. But despite the time pressure and a lack of clear progress at Monday`s talks, officials in Moscow and Brussels dismissed talk of failure. The dispute poses problems for Yeltsin. He does not want to alienate Russia`s Western partners or risk new global tensions, but he will face fierce criticism by his political rivals if he fails to win concessions before NATO enlargement goes ahead. Any discontent over his handling of NATO could also increase demands for him to step down on health grounds following his heart problems last year and the pneumonia which forced him to spend 12 says in hospital before his release on Monday.