Bergen, Norway; 26 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry say NATO is, and will remain, an organization open to new members.
"The first invitations to prospective new members will be issued next year at the NATO summit," Perry told reporters just before meeting Russian's new Defense Minister Igor Rodionov in the Norwegian city of Bergen. He declined to say which countries are considered as prime candidates. But it has been frequently said that Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary are among the favorites.
Also today Robert Hunter, U.S. ambassador to NATO, told RFE/RL that the principle of openness is the key element of the Alliance's policy toward potential candidates for membership. Hunter was responding to a question about NATO's policy toward the Baltic states.
NATO defense ministers are meeting today with Rodionov for talks about the relationship between the Alliance and Russia.