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Bush to Stress Alliance 'Transformation' at NATO Summit

The U.S. State Department says President Bush will propose a partnership arrangement for five countries that would expand the reach of NATO at the alliance summit in Latvia next week.

Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns said Tuesday Australia, Finland, Japan, South Korea and Sweden will be invited to expand training and meetings with the 26-member NATO alliance, but will not be invited to join.

Burns said the president's "transformed agenda" for NATO will give the defense bloc a more global orientation that can work outside of Europe.

Australia, Finland and Sweden currently have forces deployed with NATO in Afghanistan.

Burns said President Bush also will push NATO members to increase the share of their national budgets devoted to defense spending. He said higher spending is needed for the alliance to acquire the systems and capabilities required for modern warfare.