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Cheney: Balkan Countries Would Rejuvenate NATO

Vice President Dick Cheney (file photo) (epa) May 7, 2006 -- U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney today lent support to the NATO and EU aspirations of Croatia, Macedonia, and Albania, saying their entry would help "rejuvenate" the two blocs.

Speaking to a summit of the "Adriatic Charter" group in the Croatian port city of Dubrovnik, Cheney hailed the three countries for their willingness to undertake democratic reforms.

He also described their involvement in U.S.-led military operations in Iraq or Afghanistan as a "very important step."

Croatia, Macedonia, and Albania signed an "Adriatic Charter" in 2003 with the United States, aimed at leading to their integration into NATO. The three countries hope to join the alliance by 2008.

Cheney, who is expected to return to Washington later today, earlier on his tour visited Lithuania and Kazakhstan.