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U.S.: Senate Approves NATO Bids By Five Countries

Washington, 17 June 1997 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. Senate has approved legislation that supports the efforts to join NATO of five nations not supported by President Bill Clinton in the first round of invitations.

The Senate legislation approved yesterday adds the Baltic states -- as well as Romania and Bulgaria -- to countries eligible for U.S. assistance in qualifying for NATO membership. The legislation carries no authority in determining the U.S. position on actual invitations to NATO.

Congress previously authorized support for Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, which last week received Clinton's support for membership at the NATO summit next month in Madrid.

In Washington, meanwhile, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova called on NATO to help Bulgaria and other countries attain eventual membership. Mihailova made the appeal yesterday before meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Albright promised the first wave of new members will not be the last, but she said Washington will not name future prospective members.