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Romania: President Constantinescu Visits U.S.

  • Robert Lyle

Washington, 13 July 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Romanian President Emil Constantinescu arrives in Washington tomorrow (Tuesday) for the start of a seven day visit that will cover a broad range of political, security and economic issues, and span the American continent.

Constantinescu was invited to visit the U.S. by President Bill Clinton. In announcing the invitation, the White House praised Constantinescu's leadership, saying his government had strengthened Romania's democracy, initiated important reforms and enhanced cooperation with its neighbors and with the United States.

Constantinescu will meet with Clinton at the White House Thursday morning, where the two will review the U.S.-Romanian Strategic Partnership, the framework for advancing bilateral relations, security, and cooperation throughout the region.

According to the White House and the Romanian Embassy in Washington, the presidents' will also discuss the status of Romania's internal reforms, NATO enlargement, and efforts to promote bilateral cooperation.

Romania was not among the first Central European nations invited to join the NATO alliance, but has been pushing to be included whenever another expansion round is opened. As part of that push, Constantinescu will meet with U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen and attend a dinner of the private U.S. Committee on NATO.

Constantinescu arrives in the U.S. late Tuesday. His only event scheduled that day is a wreath laying ceremony at Arlington, America's National Cemetary.

On Wednesday, the Romanian president will address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress. Only a few foreign leaders have been accorded the honor. Former Polish President Lech Walesa was invited to speak there in 1989 as head of the trade union Solidarity, Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel spoke in 1990 and Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 1992 -- the only officials from East/Central Europe.

Thursday, July 16, Constantinescu goes to the White House (at 1600 Prague time) for his meeting with Clinton and subsequent talks with other cabinet members. He'll then have lunch with U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, the head of the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and other officials dealing with law enforcement and the fight against organized crime.

On Friday, the Romanian president visits the Defense Department for talks with Cohen. He is also scheduled to address a luncheon of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce promoting trade and investment. Several business agreements are expected to be signed at that session.

Later that day, Constantinescu will sign agreements on cooperation in rural telecommunications, meet with officials of the Lockheed-Martin aerospace company and address the National Geographic Society on preserving the Danube river.

Saturday, July 18, Constantinescu will travel south of Washington, D.C. to visit the FBI's training academy at Quantico Marine Base, then return to Arlington, Virginia -- just across the river from Washington -- to lay a wreath at the memorial to slain journalists. He will also visit the "Newseum" -- a museum of journalism -- and present a copy of a newspaper published illegally in communist Romania.

After a visit to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Constantinescu will participate in a ceremony for the return of four paintings, dating from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, which were stolen from the Bruckenthal Museum in Sibiu, Romania in 1968.

The paintings were brought to the U.S. in 1971 by an immigrant who bought them all for just over 1,000 dollars in Vienna. He says he did not know they were stolen and only learned of their origin recently when he had them appraised at between 300,000 and one million dollars each. The man voluntarily turned them over to U.S. Customs agents.

Saturday night, Constantinescu flies to the American west coast for a two day visit to San Francisco. In addition to meeting with local Romanian-American communities and several American businesses with interests in Romania, he will attend Sunday services at a Romanian Church and speak Monday to the prestigious Commonwealth Club and World Affairs Council.

Monday night, July 20th, the Romania president flies to Chicago in the central U.S. to breakfast Tuesday morning with leaders of companies interested in agricultural investment and to address the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. He leaves for home Tuesday night (Wednesday morning Prague time).