WASHINGTON (AP) _ Latvia's President Vaira Vike-Freiberga registered the Baltic country's hopes for membership in NATO Monday at a meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell.

NATO has been a force for peace and stability in Europe, Vike-Freiberga said at a brief picture-taking session with Powell afterward.

In turn, Powell offered assurances that Russia will ``never be given a veto'' over NATO membership for Latvia.