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Bush Praises Romania As Strong NATO Partner

Romanian President Basescu (file photo) 9 March 2005 -- U.S. President George W. Bush said that he views Romania as a steadfast ally of NATO and a springboard for democratic reform in the Black Sea region.

Bush, sitting with Basescu in the Oval Office, said Basecu gave him good advice on Romania's eastern neighbor Moldova, where a pro-Western Communist Party won a parliament majority in elections last weekend.

"We discussed the neighborhood, and [Basescu] gave me very good advice about Moldova. We discussed the Black Sea, and the president has got a clear vision as to how to make sure the world is more peaceful."

Bush also called Basescu a "steadfast ally of freedom." Basescu said he told Bush that Romanians believe they should be allowed to travel to the U.S. without a visa.

Basescu is on a three-day visit to the U.S. to discuss political, military, and economic relations between the two nations.

Basescu also is meeting with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to discuss terrorism, the situation in Iraq, and securing Romania's borders.