NATO admits 2 countries, sidelines 3 bids

April 3, 2008 at 10:03 AM

BUCHAREST, Romania, April 3 (UPI) -- NATO officials, meeting in Romania, offered membership to two Balkan states but rebuffed bids by two former Soviet states to begin the membership process.

The organization, meeting in Bucharest, Wednesday essentially rejected a request by U.S. President George Bush to allow Georgia and Ukraine to begin the membership process, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

The alliance agreed to admit Croatia and Albania but held off admitting Macedonia when Greece exercised its veto power because of a name dispute, the Post said.

Russia opposes Georgia's and Ukraine's membership requests, saying it would target them with nuclear missiles in response.

"I would be happy to be proven wrong but for the moment I do not expect membership action plans for Georgia and Ukraine here at Bucharest," NATO spokesman James Appathurai said.

Bush would still press for Georgia and Ukraine but acknowledged he may have to settle for a vaguer statement that NATO would still consider Ukraine and Georgia at a later date, a U.S. official said.

"If the alliance can come together and can show that the door remains open and the process of new members coming into NATO continues, that will be a success," the official said.

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