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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Meri Announces Bid

TALLINN, Estonia () -- Estonian President Lennart Meri, a strong supporter of European Union and NATO entry for the small Baltic state, said Friday he would stand for a second term of office.

The Estonian parliament will choose the president for a new five-year term in a vote Aug. 26.

Meri has backed a strong pro-Western stance for Estonia since it quit the former Soviet Union in 1991.

He remains suspicious of huge neighbor Russia, which has dominated Estonia for most of the last two centuries, and sees NATO and EU membership as the best security guarantees.

"I am aware of the responsibility I am taking," Meri, 67, told Estonian TV-3 television after meeting a group of parliamentary deputies who asked him to stand for re-election.

Meri needs 68 of the 101 members of parliament to back him. If he fails Aug. 26, a second vote will be held the next day.