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U.S./Europe: Bush Backs Expanded NATO, New Ties With Russia

Washington, 10 April 2002 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush has reaffirmed his support for further NATO expansion and said he wants to see the alliance develop a new and more constructive relationship with Russia. Bush made the comments after talks at the White House yesterday with NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson.

The U.S. president said NATO must develop new, flexible capabilities to meet the threats of the 21st century.

He said NATO should admit new members so that freedom can be secured "from the Baltic to the Black Sea." However, Bush gave no details about which countries might be formally invited to join NATO during the alliance's November summit in Prague.

Bush also called for NATO to forge a new, more constructive relationship with Russia so that the divisions of the past can finally be abolished.

NATO and Russia are currently negotiating the formation of a new forum in which Russia would have a say with the NATO states on some security issues.