THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT ON NATO ENLARGEMENT
After careful consideration, I have decided that the United States will support inviting three countries -- Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic -- to begin accession talks to join NATO when we meet in Madrid next month.
We have said all along that we would judge aspiring members by their ability to add strength to the Alliance and their readiness to shoulder the obligations of NATO membership. Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic most clearly meet those criteria -- and have currently made the greatest strides in military capacity and political and economic reform.
As I have repeatedly emphasized, the first new members should not and will not be the last. We will continue to work with other interested nations, such as Slovenia and Romania, to help them prepare for membership. Other nations are making good progress -- and none will be excluded from consideration.
We look forward to working with our NATO allies to reach agreement on this important issue.
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