Turku, Finland; 9 June 2001 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told his Baltic and Nordic counterparts today in Finland that the U.S. favors adding new members to the NATO alliance "when they are ready." He said the U.S. has an "open door" policy on NATO expansion. But he was not prepared to say whether the U.S. would support early entry for any of the three Baltic states. He says Russia will have no veto over NATO's decision on new members.
On the final stop of seven-nation European tour, Rumsfeld met in the Finnish city of Turku with the defense ministers of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
Rumsfeld says the administration of U.S. President George Bush will include Baltic and Nordic nations in consultations on taking a new approach to security and defense.
Besides the Baltic states, Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia are hoping to be admitted at a NATO summit in Prague next year.