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NATO: U.S. Says New Members May Be Chosen In Madrid

Washington, 1 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - The United States says the question of how many countries are to be invited to join NATO may not be decided until the last minute at next week's summit in Madrid.

White House spokesman Michael McCurry told reporters yesterday that some NATO member states feel it would be better to get a consensus in advance, before heads of government arrive for the July 8-9 NATO meeting.

But McCurry said he is not ruling out the possibility that the leaders themselves will have to take up the issue when they gather in Madrid.

The U.S. supports only three new countries for membership -- the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary. But many of its European allies, especially France and Italy, are urging that Romania and Slovenia also be included in the first round of NATO expansion.