Bush Says Door To NATO Membership Is Open To Georgia, Ukraine

RIGA, Latvia -- NATO remains receptive to the idea of Georgia and Ukraine eventually joining the western alliance, U.S. President George W. Bush said Tuesday.

U.S. President George W. Bush waves from Air Force 1, as he arrives for a NATO summit in Riga, Tuesday Nov. 28, 2006

"We will continue to support Georgia's desire to become a NATO" member, and membership also "will be open to the Ukrainian people if they choose it," Bush said in a speech before the start of a two-day NATO summit in the Latvian capital.

Bush also lashed out at oppression in Belarus, which he said "offends the conscience of Europe and the conscience of America."

He said he would not consider pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq until they accomplish their mission.

"There's one thing I won't do: I won't pull our troops from the battlefield before the mission is complete," he said in his speech at the University of Riga.

Defeating Taliban forces in Afghanistan "will require the full commitment of our alliance," Bush said, calling the mission NATO's No. 1 operation.

"The commander on the ground must have the resources and flexibility they need to do their jobs," he said.

Source: AP