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Latvia: Major Assures Latvian President About EU Entry

London, 14 November 1996 (RFE/RL) -- British Prime Minister John Major has told Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis that his country supports the Baltic nation's desire to join the European Union.

Ulmanis, who is on a five-day official visit to Britain, had just over an hour of talks with Major in London last night.

Sources in London said today that Major told Ulmanis that Britain is one of the foremost advocates of EU enlargement and wishes to see Latvia as a member "as soon as is practical."

The two men discussed Latvia's desire to join NATO but the sources did not elaborate. Their talks -- said to be "friendly" -- also focused on Baltic regional issues.

Ulmanis told the Royal Institute for International Affairs on Tuesday that the consolidation of the independence of the Baltic countries depends on membership of both the EU and NATO. He acknowledged that accession negotiations to both groupings would be lengthy.

Ulmanis will have talks and dinner tonight with British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind. He returns to Latvia tomorrow afternoon.