Inviting New Members Into NATO
MADRID (AllPolitics, July 7) -- Political directors of the 16 NATO allies will meet today to hash out the communique their leaders will sign off on Wednesday to formally invite new members into the alliance, a senior NATO official said.
While the United States stands firm on limiting this round of expansion to Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, the NATO official said a final decision will be made only after debate among the leaders of the NATO countries that could be preceded by a meeting of NATO foreign ministers Tuesday morning.
President Bill Clinton angered some fellow alliance leaders when he announced unexpectedly last month that the United States did not want to include Romania and Slovenia, the darlings of France and Italy, respectively.
U.S. officials said the president went public after a long campaign, also in public, by France and Italy for the inclusion of Romania and Slovenia. The United States saw that public pressure as having broken the tacit agreement among all the allies not to declare support ahead of Tuesday's summit for any of the applicants.
John Kornblum, ambassador-designate to Germany, was expected to represent Washington at the meeting of political directors.
The eighth paragraph of the proposed communique to be issued is said to rank in importance with the invitations to membership because it would outline specific tasks that countries such as Romania, Slovenia and the Baltics will need to complete if they want to be included in a second round expansion that is likely to take place in April 1999 at a special summit celebrating NATO's 50th anniversary.
In an appearance earlier in the day, Clinton called the NATO summit "a milestone in our work to adapt NATO to a new Europe and a new century so it can meet new security challenges, open the door to new members, and reach out to new partners. This new mission for NATO is designed to secure a Europe that is undivided, democratic and at peace for the first time in history."
Said Clinton, "I believe the decision, the consensus decision will be for three [additional members], but I hope and believe there will be a clear message that the door to NATO remains open."
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