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Romania: Clinton Praises, Encourages Reform Efforts

Bucharest, 11 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - Visiting U.S. President Bill Clinton today offered praise and encouragement for Romania's reform process.

Addressing an enthusiastic, mostly young crowd of thousands in an open air rally in central Bucharest, Clinton said the economic reforms the country had recently adopted would have short term costs. But, he promised, the long term benefits would be far greater.

Clinton also praised what he called Romania's "responsible leadership" in its own region. He specifically cited participation in international efforts in Bosnia and Albania and its cooperation with the NATO military alliance.

At a NATO summit earlier this week, the U.S. blocked moves to include Romania in a first wave of states invited to begin accession talks. Only Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland were invited.

With the Bucharest crowd chanting "NATO, NATO" Clinton said that he saluted the country's desire to join the military alliance and said he wants that too. He said if Romania continues with reforms it will eventually gain NATO membership. He said the door to NATO is open and promised that the U.S. would help Romania walk through it.

Clinton arrived in Romania today from Poland.