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Hungary: Britain's Cook Praises EU Bid

Budapest, 26 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said today in Budapest that no country has done more to fulfill conditions for prospective membership in the European Union than Hungary.

He made the remark in a speech to business and political leaders. He said that Hungary clearly belongs in the front rank to join. He said that the former Iron Curtain must not be replaced with what he called a velvet curtain, separating the haves from the have-nots.

Cook also said that Britain's new Labour government strongly backs EU expansion and noted that Britain will hold the EU's rotating presidency when the accession talks begin. He said the planned expansion required the cooperation of all of central Europe to bring in the new members on equal terms.

Cook was in Budapest on the first stop on a three-nation tour to promote EU membership for Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland.

He had talks with Prime Minister Gyula Horn and Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs. Cook is scheduled to visit Prague tomorrow, and also will make a trip to Warsaw.