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Romania, U.S. back NATO expansion in Balkans
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08:57, April 03, 2008

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Presidents of Romania and the United States voiced Wednesday their support for inviting Croatia, Albania and Macedonia to join NATO, hoping the alliance will make a favorable decision at its Bucharest Summit.

Romania and the U.S. have similar approaches to the Balkans, Ukraine and Georgia, Romanian President Traian Basescu told a joint press conference, after talks with his American counterpart George W. Bush in the Black Sea resort of Neptun in southeastern Romania.

According to Basescu, Romania's partnership with the U.S., having gone beyond a mere defence one, is now acquiring an important economic side as well.

Bush expected NATO allies to take whatever steps were necessary so as to ensure the success of its mission in Afghanistan. According to Bush, it is very important that all the NATO member states clarify their intentions on support to be given to Afghanistan.

"We are willing to understand that it is not very easy to send troops, but it is in our interest to be there, as we must not have an enemy that can attack us at home. We need to build a democracy from the dust the Taliban left behind them in Afghanistan. It is worth getting involved for our security," the White House leader said.

Basescu assured the U.S. president that Romania will respect its commitments to NATO, the European Union and also the pledges related to the bilateral partnership.

Bush also mentioned the problems relating to the anti-missile shield, saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin has to understand that the anti-missile shield is mainly directed against some regimes in the Middle East.

Bush said he understood Russia's concerns as regards NATO's enlargement, adding that Russia was also concerned about Romania's accession to the Alliance and now Romania is a reliable partner.

Bush said there were issues over which he could not agree with Vladimir Putin but also aspects on which they have to cooperate.

He said he did not mind having a direct discussion with President Putin, in order to find out his opinions and to see if they could agree on things.

According to Bush, he also discussed the issue of visas with his Romanian counterpart and agreed to collaborate to improve the situation.

Bush said he understands Romanians' frustrations with the need for visas to travel to the U.S., and he had tried to convince the Congress to modernize the visa law.

The law has been amended, he said, but still includes obstacles for countries such as Romania.

Bush arrived in Bucharest Tuesday evening for an official visit to Romania where he is to take part in the NATO Summit due on April 2-4.


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