The United States has told NATO allies that further expansion of the alliance to include Balkan nations, and perhaps Ukraine, should wait until 2008.
"We don't think that the candidates that are interested in that are ready yet," said Kurt Volker, the U.S. principal deputy assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.
Volker said Ukraine could be included in 2008 membership plans along with the Balkan countries. "There is a lot to be encouraged about in Ukraine," he told reporters after talks at NATO headquarters. "We'll see where they are in 2008, we can't prejudge."
The U.S. proposed to allies this week that the alliance hold a summit in 2008 to offer invitations to new members and strengthen ties with a wider group of nations in the former Soviet bloc, North Africa and the Middle East, the AP reports.