Romania enrols as peace partner

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ROMANIA yesterday became the first former Warsaw Pact country to sign up for the Partnership for Peace (PFP) proposals, aimed at bringing them closer to their former adversaries in Nato, writes Adrian Bridge.

Visiting Nato headquarters in Brussels, Teodor Melescanu, Romania's Foreign Minister, pledged his country's co-operation in the scheme, which he, like his counterparts throughout Eastern Europe, hopes will lead to full Nato membership.

Nato leaders formally endorsed the US-initiated PFP proposals earlier this month. Although they fall short of the cast-iron membership and security guarantees sought by former Warsaw Pact states, they have all subsequently backed it.

Mr Melescanu's pilgrimage to Brussels will be repeated today by Algirdas Brazauskas, President of Lithuania, the first former Soviet republic to take up the PFP offer, which was also extended to Russia. Waldemar Pawlak, Poland's Prime Minister, is expected to follow suit next week.

Participants in the scheme will be able to join Nato countries in limited military exercises and peace-keeping activities, and also exchange information on defence spending. Each country will be able to determine the scale and nature of its participation in these areas.

Despite Russian misgivings, some are expected to join a fast track to full Nato membership at some, as yet unspecified, point in the future. Poland, one of the countries most anxious to join Nato, has announced plans to hold joint military manoeuvres with German and Danish troops this year.