Washington, 10 January 1997 (RFE/RL) -- The State Department says NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana will have the full confidence of the United States when he goes to Moscow in two weeks for talks on a charter that will define the ties between NATO and Russia.
U.S. spokesman Nicholas Burns told reporters yesterday that Secretary of State Warren Christopher gave Solana that message when the two met in Washington a short while ago.
Burns says Solana had detailed discussions with Christopher and Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott on the upcoming Moscow talks.
The 16-nation alliance plans this summer to invite new members from among the former communist countries of eastern and central Europe. Russia is opposed to this expansion plan. However, it has agreed to talks with NATO to establish a post-Cold War relationship based on a charter agreement.
Burns says Solana's talks in Moscow will be an important step on the way to NATO's expansion process. He says NATO hopes to have an agreement with Russia before the alliance extends its invitations at a conference in Spain in July.
However, Burns added that if the Russia-NATO talks fail, "we will, of course, continue with the summit in Madrid and continue with our decision to decide on the new members who will be invited to become NATO members."
White House spokesman Michael Mccurry said Solana met for an hour with U.S. Vice President Al Gore and that President Bill Clinton also dropped in for a portion of the meeting.
In addition, Mccurry said Solana also met Deputy National Security adviser Sandy Berger.
Solana's meetings in Washington are in connection with his upcoming trip to Moscow in preparation for the NATO summit in July.