Havel Fights on Hill for Place in NATO: GOP Leaders Back Czech Republic
Sieff, Martin, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Czech President Vaclav Havel muffled his tough attacks on the Clinton administration's go-slow approach to NATO expansion to woo Capitol Hill yesterday.
Mr. Havel, 60, met with congressional leaders from both parties. He told reporters his talk with Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi was "not long in duration, but it was very intensive in substance, and the subject was NATO expansion."
Mr. Havel is to discuss NATO expansion with administration officials Friday. President Clinton may meet with him privately, administration sources said.
But congressional sources said he added yesterday's trip to Capitol Hill to seek reassurance that the required two-thirds of the Senate will approve expansion of the alliance to include the Czech Republic. Poland and Hungary also have been mentioned prominently as among the first additions to NATO.
A decision is expected at a NATO summit July 8 and 9 in Madrid.
Republican leaders in the Senate seemed eager to reassure Mr. Havel on the Czech Republic's entry. They also backed his concern that the conditions of NATO membership should not be diluted by U.S. or NATO commitments to Russia being negotiated.
"President Havel has stood firm despite threats from Russia. The West must do the same," Mr. Lott said in a statement. "I remain concerned that we are establishing a formal relationship between NATO and Russia before new members have even been invited to join NATO."
Sen. William V. Roth Jr., Delaware Republican and president of the North Atlantic Assembly, NATO's parliamentary arm, pledged bipartisan cooperation with Mr. …