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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Washington to Host Meeting Of Clinton, 3 Baltic Leaders

The presidents of the three former Soviet Baltic republics will meet with U.S. President Bill Clinton in Washington on Jan. 16 and sign a joint charter.

The planned meeting was announced Wednesday by the White House as well as Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. White House press secretary Mike McCurry said in a statement the summit would be an historic step "in the deepening of our relations with the Baltic states."

The four presidents will sign a Charter of Partnership that articulates shared principles and values, the White House said. It would be Clinton's third meeting with the Baltic leaders.

Interfax said a draft of the charter has been sent to the foreign ministries of the three republics.

Its contents have not been disclosed. But Baltic officials have said the document was aimed at preparing the three nations for possible membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, helping them resolve differences with Russia and promoting initiatives that assure them of U.S. support.

According to Interfax, the charter would confirm the sides' unified views on the development of Europe and European security and would express support for the Baltics' desire to join NATO, but would not be legally binding.

Lithuanian presidential adviser Algirdas Gricius said the planned charter was likely to help his country take unspecified concrete steps toward NATO membership after the first stage of the U.S.-led alliance's expansion in 1999, the Baltic News Service reported.

The three Baltic republics, which gained independence in 1991 after half a century of Soviet domination, say only NATO can guarantee their security in view of what they see as expansionist trends in Russia.

Moscow has tried to dissuade Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia from seeking NATO membership by offering them security guarantees. The three countries have remained cool to the offer.