U.S. President George W. Bush has arrived in Romania for this week's NATO summit after pledging to strongly press the allies to initiate the membership process for Ukraine and Georgia.
Mr. Bush stressed his position while in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, despite continued opposition from Russia and some U.S. allies.
Both Mr. Bush and Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said NATO expansion is not aimed against Russia, and insisted Moscow will have no veto on the issue.
Mr. Bush also rejected any trade-off between U.S. backing for Ukraine and Georgia and U.S. plans for deploying a missile defense system in central Europe. Russia vehemently opposes both NATO expansion and the missile defense system.
NATO members Germany and France have expressed doubts on the readiness of Ukraine and Georgia for the membership process. In Paris, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon repeated his country's stand, which would deny the required unanimous approval at the summit in Bucharest.
During his visit to Ukraine, Mr. Bush laid a wreath at a memorial to the victims of a mass famine in the 1930s and visited Kyiv's 11th century Cathedral of St. Sophia and a school.
Monday, U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said leaders at the NATO summit are expected to make what he calls a strong statement about the alliance's commitment to success in Afghanistan.
The United States and Britain have demanded that their NATO partners take on more responsibilities in Afghanistan.
Mr. Bush also has accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin's invitation to visit the Black Sea resort of Sochi for talks on the proposed U.S. missile defense system.
NATO leaders in Bucharest also are expected to offer membership to Albania, Croatia and possibly Macedonia.