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Baltic States: U.S.-Baltic Security Talks Underway

Washington, 12 September 1996 (RFE/RL) - The State Department says a delegation of U.S. officials is visiting Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania this week for talks "about a variety of security issues."

Spokesman Nicholas Burns declined to elaborate on the substance of the talk. He did not say who was on the U.S. delegation or who it was meeting with.

However, Burns reiterated the U.S. view that the Baltic nations "are European and ought to be faced westward as they want to be." He says the United States has "a very strong national interest in forging "very close and strong relations," with the three countries.

Burns says he expects the Baltic countries to remain very active members of the NATO alliance Partnership for Peace Program. That project links former communist states with the western alliance but stops short of full alliance membership.

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have all said they want to be full members of NATO. Russia, which borders all three countries, opposes their inclusion in the alliance.