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Romania: France's Chirac Opens Visit

By Bogdan Lefter

Bucharest, 21 February 1991 (RFE/RL) -- Romania welcomed French President Jacques Chirac today as Bucharest's new leaders intensify their efforts to draw closer to the European Union (EU) and the NATO alliance.

Chirac, accompanied by three ministers, will be the first foreign head of state to make an official visit to Romania since last November's election of President Emil Constantinescu.

France is viewed as Romania's strongest backer for integration into the EU and NATO. The alliance is expected to extend membership invitations to several East European countries at a summit in July and Bucharest has repeatedly stressed its desire to be among those chosen. Earlier this week, President Constantinescu said NATO's first round of expansion without Poland and Romania "would make no sense."