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Berger Says Expanded NATO Tops Foreign Policy Goals

December 9, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ An expanded NATO including a stronger partnership with Russia will top the Clinton administration’s second-term foreign policy goals, the incoming White House national security adviser says.

A more united Europe and greater U.S. presence in Asia are part of ``some very broad strategic objectives for the second term that build upon the foundation of the first term,″ Sandy Berger said Sunday on ABC’s ``This Week.″

Berger, who has been deputy national security adviser, was named by President Clinton on Thursday to succeed CIA Director-designate Anthony Lake as head of the National Security Council staff.

In the television interview, Berger outlined five main foreign policy goals during the president’s second four-year term.

The first, he said, is to ``complete the work of building, perhaps for the first time, a democratic and united Europe around an expanding NATO and a partnership with Russia.″

Clinton has pledged to work for an early inclusion of some former Warsaw Pact states, including Hungary and Poland, into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Convincing Moscow that this expansion is not a threat and that Russia can benefit from a greater partnership with the NATO alliance will be a theme of Clinton’s scheduled meeting with Russian President Boris Yeltsin next March.

Berger said the second goal was increasing the U.S. presence in Asia.

Other priorities are dealing with a ``cluster of new security challenges″ such as drugs, terrorism, rogue states and the environment; ``recognizing that we are the indispensable nation which can contribute to peace where our interests and our values are engaged;″ and creating jobs by boosting the global economy.

Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Berger’s goals ``offer some possibility for a strategic vision.″

But Lugar told ABC that both diplomatic and military policies are hampered by a lack of adequate funding.

Speaking of Clinton’s naming U.N. Ambassador Madeleine Albright to be secretary of state, he said Clinton ``has got to make some basic decisions or she will have so little money it doesn’t matter what the strategic vision was if she had one.″

Elsewhere in the interview, Berger stressed that while U.S. troops will continue to participate in NATO peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia, ``we can’t be there forever″ and ``sooner or later the parties in Bosnia are going to have to make their own way.″

House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich, R-Ohio, said a permanent U.S. presence in Bosnia would be ``a major mistake.″ The lawmaker said he was working with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to urge that American troops be withdrawn by spring.

``The risks to our troops over time is too high and it is not in the vital American interest,″ Kasich said on NBC’s ``Meet the Press.″ ``We’ve done our job. Now we’ve got to think about coming home and letting them complete the job over there in Europe.″

On Middle East topics, Berger called Jewish settlements on the occupied West Bank ``a complication to the peace process″ and said chances of a U.S. reconciliation with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein are slim.

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