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Rice Interview With Andrey Cherkasov of NTV Thursday, 24 May 2007, 2:00 pm Press Release: US State Department Interview With Andrey Cherkasov of NTV Secretary Condoleezza Rice Moscow, Russia May 15, 2007 [EXCERPT]

QUESTION: General Henry Obering a few months ago mentioned one of the countries in the caucuses that might participate in your program of anti-missile system by putting another radar there. He didn't name the country, but everyone assumed it was Georgia. Is it so, and how close are Ukraine and Georgia in joining NATO?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, for the joining of NATO, NATO is an organization that welcomes all democratic members. Thus, there are certain performance standards that have to be met for NATO and there are a lot of obligations, a lot of commitments, a lot of reforms that have to be taken and it is ultimately up to the people of those countries, if they choose to, to seek NATO membership. But NATO also has a long list of commitments that have to be met.

As to other sites for missile defense, the United States is pursuing the sites that everyone knows about, Poland and the Czech Republic. We're having those discussions. If anything further develops, we will do what we did on these, which is to consult with our NATO allies, but also to consult with Russia. We began consultations with Russia on missile defense in June of 2006. Those consultations continue to this day. We just determined that there should be a new forum for consultation. The two -- the foreign and defense minister of Russia and myself and Secretary Gates will meet together so that we can plan ahead and look ahead so that there are no surprises in our strategic relationship.

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