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United States: Solana, Christopher Discuss NATO Expansion

Washington, 18 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher and NATO Secretary General Javier Solana met in Washington Friday to review the next steps in NATO's expansion program.

State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said Christopher and Solana had a long discussion about internal changes in NATO and other issues connected to the enlargement process. He gave no other details.

At a separate meeting with Washington reporters and political scholars today, Solana said an important step for NATO expansion will be taken at a NATO summit scheduled for July 1997.

He said the Western alliance will announce at that time, and not before, which countries it will invite to join NATO.

Solana said that by the time of the July summit, NATO also hopes to have developed, what he called " a sound and solid bilateral relationship with Russia."

He noted Russia's importance for stability in Europe and said NATO does not want to isolate anybody and "very much hopes that Russia will not want to isolate itself." Russian officials have repeatedly voiced their objection to NATO's expansion plans.

Solana said a third major item on the July summit agenda will be the next phase in NATO's Partnership for Peace program with former Communist countries.

Solana said NATO wants more consultations and closer military and political ties with the Partnership countries, including their participation in some NATO decision-making.