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Baltic States: U.S. Reaffirms Commitment To Security

Washington, 28 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - The State Department yesterday reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the security, independence and sovereignty of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Spokesman Nicholas Burns also said that Russia,ought to have good relations with its Baltic neighbors. He told reporters that the United States is aware of a Russian foreign policy planning document discussed in Moscow last week that discussed Russia's strategic relationship with the Baltic countries. Those guidelines also reportedly cautioned the three republics against joining the NATO military alliance.

Burns says the United States continues to stress to both Russia and the Baltic nations the importance of cooperation, but he also said the United States has an independent relationship with the Baltics. He says the United States is concerned that they remain independent with their sovereignty fully intact.

The Baltic states are not likely to be among the first of the central and eastern European nations who will be invited this summer to join NATO. However, Burns says this does not mean that the three countries can never become full-fledged alliance members.