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NATO: Text Of Clinton Statement Supporting Just Three New Members

Washington, June 12 (NCA/saw) - President Bill Clinton issued the following statement today on America's decision to support only the candidacy of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland for first-wave NATO membership:

"After careful consideration, I've decided that the United States will support inviting three countries -- Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic -- to begin accession talks to join NATO when we meet in Madrid next month.

We have said all along that we would judge aspiring members by their ability to add strength to the alliance and their readiness to shoulder the obligations of NATO membership.

Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic clearly meet those criteria and have currently made the greatest strides in military capacity and political and economic reform.

"As I have repeatedly emphasized, the first new members should not and will not be the last.

We will continue to work with other interested nations such as Slovenia and Romania to help them prepare for membership. Other nations are making good progress, and none will be excluded from consideration.

"We look forward to working with our NATO allies to reach agreement on this important issue."