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U.S./Russia: U.S. Senator Supports Romania For NATO

Washington, 14 May 1997 (RFE/RL) - A leading U.S. senator says he supports the inclusion of Romania among the first group of nations to be invited to join NATO, but says he is concerned that reforms in that country might yet fail.

Senator Alfonse D'Amato (R-New York) made the comment yesterday during a hearing of the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), also known as the Helsinki Commission.

Ambassadors of Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovenia were invited by the Commission to present their country's views on NATO enlargement with a particular emphasis on human rights issues.

Romanian ambassador Mircea Dan Geoana told the Commission his country has made great strides in protecting the human rights of its citizens.

But D'Amato said he was concerned about the issue of restitution in Romania, and worried about what he said were powerful elements of Romanian society who could be a disruptive influence on democratic reform and human rights progress in the country.

The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland are expected to be the first countries that NATO invites to join.