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NATO: Legislators Say U.S. Congress Will Approve Expansion

Washington, 9 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - U.S. legislators at the NATO Madrid summit say they are certain the U.S. Congress will approve NATO's expansion into Central Europe.

Ben Gilman, the influential chairman of the House of Representatives International Relations Committee said he has no doubt that Congress will eventually support what he called "this historic decision."

Gilman (R-New York) said previous resolutions and legislative proposals indicate there is strong support in both chambers of Congress. But he also said it will take a lot of work to convince the American public and some of his colleagues in the House and the U.S. Senate to support America's expanded NATO commitment

Senator William Roth, head of the Senate NATO Observer Group, said today is only the beginning for a growing NATO. He said it is imperative for NATO to have an agressive open-door policy and that "unambiguous assurances" will be given to remaining applicants that the door to NATO is indeed open.

Roth (R-Delaware) said the decision to invite Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary to join NATO is a long awaited step in the effort to heal the wound of Yalta that left Europe divided at the end of the Second World War. It is a fist step toward eliminating a security vacuum in Europe, he said.