CHICAGO, March 20 (UPI) -- Pushing for new members should be at the top of U.S. President Barack Obama's agenda at this year's NATO summit, a conservative think tank said Tuesday.
The Heritage Foundation called for Obama to lobby for NATO to admit qualified candidates at the May summit in Chicago.
Last week, Congress took a step toward supporting NATO's expansion with the introduction of the "NATO Enhancement Act of 2012," sponsored by Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind. It would call on the State Department to provide a report assessing American commitment to enlargement.
The Washington organization said Obama should promote full NATO membership for Macedonia at the summit and support progress being made by Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina toward NATO membership.
Helping ensure NATO's open-door policy by securing new members is vitally important, the foundation said.
"As the Obama administration shifts its defense priorities from Europe to Asia, America's NATO allies should not be forgotten," the foundation said. "NATO has done more for Europe to promote democracy, peace, and security than any other multilateral organization, including the European Union. It is essential that the United States continue to be an active participant in the alliance's prosperity."