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NATO Chief: 'Door is Open' for Georgia to Join Alliance

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says the door is open for the former Soviet republic of Georgia to join the alliance.

De Hoop Scheffer said Thursday he is encouraged by Georgia's improvements in recent years. But he added Tbilisi still needs to implement judicial and other democratic reforms before Georgia can gain NATO entry.

The NATO chief made his comments at a news conference after conferring with Georgia's president, Mikhail Saakashvili, in the town of Singnaghi. Earlier in the day, de Hoop Scheffer also met with other senior Georgian officials

Georgia has been striving to build closer ties with the United States and other Western countries as it actively seeks NATO entry.

Neighboring Russia opposes Georgia's NATO membership aspirations.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.