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Senate Foreign Relations OKs Five More Countries for NATO

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved legislation today to add several former Soviet bloc nations to NATO as well as two other bills, ambassorial nominations and committee procedures for the new Congress.

All bills, nominations and rules were passed en bloc on a voice vote at the end of a brief hearing. No roll call votes were recorded.

Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), the panel’s ranking member, sponsored the NATO measure, (S. 494), which backs the proposed enlargement of the alliance to include the formerly communist nations of Albania, Croatia, Georgia, Macedonia and Ukraine. Seven eastern European countries joined in 2004 and three formerly communist countries were admitted in 1999.

The full House passed its own version of the North American Treaty Organization measure (H.R. 987) by voice vote Tuesday night.

Another bill passed by the Foreign Relations Committee (S. 377) would establish a youth exchange program between Poland and the United States and would authorize spending for it.

The third bill approved by the panel would allow directors of the Inter-American Development Bank to also serve on the board of directors of the Inter-American Foundation. The Inter-American Foundation is an independent agency of the United States government that makes grants to support community development in Latin America and the Carribean.

The Foreign Relations Committee also reported out the nominations for three ambassadorships: Ryan Crocker as Ambassador to Iraq, William Wood as Ambassador to Afghanistan and Stanley Davis Phillips to be Ambassador to Estonia.

The committee also adopted rules governing committee procedure for the 110th Congress. The key substantive change from the rules during the prior Congress was a requirement that at least one minority party member be present for the committee to report any matter.

The panel postponed until the next markup consideration of a resolution that condemns the murder of Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.

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