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NATO: Talbott Predicts U.S. Senate Will Approve Expansion

Washington, 3 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Strobe Talbott is predicting U.S. Senate approval for the planned expansion of the NATO military alliance, but he says President Bill Clinton is not taking Senate consent for granted.

NATO is expected to invite the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to join its 16-members at a summit next week. The treaty that created the alliance in 1949 will be amended to accomplish expansion, and the Senate must approve U.S. acceptance of foreign treaty amendments.

In an interview with the "Washington Times" published in today's editions, Talbott says the Clinton Administration will spend the next year working to convince the Senate that enlargement is in the U.S. national interest. Two-thirds of the 100-member Senate must approve the revised treaty.

Talbott also repeated the U.S. view that the first round of expansion should be limited to just the three countries. Other NATO members have lobbied for Romania and Slovenia to be included as well.

Talbott said the first round of expansion will not be the last, but he also said that in order to make future expansion easier, the first round must be an unqualified success. He said enlargement must be steady, deliberate and manageable.