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NATO: Candidates For Second Wave To Remain Unnamed

Madrid, 8 July 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Spanish officials at NATO's summit in Madrid say that NATO will not announce in advance candidates or a date for its second wave of expansion when it issues the first invitations to some Central and Eastern European countries later today.

NATO officials have said the alliance will stress that its door remains open to acceptance of more countries even after today's historic decision to accept between three and five former Communist countries in the first wave of eastward expansion.

The Spanish officials, who spoke to reporters on condition that they not be named, said, however, that the document to be issued at this summit stressing the open door will not be precise about either the timing or names of future entrants.

This reflects the U.S. position articulated last week by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

A NATO official said yesterday that the alliance aims to finalize acceptance of the first wave of new members by the time it celebrates its 50th anniversary in April, 1999. He said if the enlargement is carried out successfully by that time, it will "give a good perspective from which to launch the second wave." Some observers at the Madrid summit have taken this to mean that candidates for the second wave will be announced at that time.