Ukraine's Entry Into NATO Up To Itself: Rice

MOSCOW, Russia -- US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that it is up to Ukraine itself whether it can join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

The United States has told Ukraine that the door of NATO is always open to the former Soviet republic and it is mainly up to Ukraine to join NATO, said Rice in an interview with the Russian Independent TV Station.

Condoleezza Rice with Vladimir Putin

There have been some coordination plans between NATO and Ukraine, which will help Ukraine carry out its domestic reforms, said Rice.

Rice arrived in Moscow Tuesday for a two-day visit to prepare for a summit between US President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Talking about Bush's coming visits to Latvia, Russia and Georgia, Rice expressed her hope that Russia understands the US friendly ties with Latvia and Georgia.

The development of ties between the United States and the two countries will not affect the good US-Russian relations, she said.

During her stay in Moscow, Rice held talks with Russian President Putin and other Kremlin leaders.

Rice traveled to the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius later Wednesday to attend a regular NATO foreign ministers' meeting, as well as meetings of the NATO-Russia Council and the NATO-Ukraine Commission.