Bush hints U.S. will recognize Baltics tomorrow


KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine -- President Bush, in a call to Lithuanian President Vytautas Landsbergis yesterday, gave a strong signal that he will announce tomorrow the opening of U.S. diplomatic relations with the Baltic countries.

"I said that we'd probably have something to say on Monday that would be of great interest to the people there," Mr. Bush said in recounting his call to the Lithuanian president.

The call appeared to be an effort to reassure Mr. Landsbergis that the United States will be recognizing the Baltic states' independence despite a weeklong delay.

"I just wanted to touch that base," Mr. Bush said as he was about to begin his afternoon round of golf. "And we did. . . . It went well."

Mr. Bush has put off opening diplomatic ties with Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia because the administration has been trying to get Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev to formally acknowledge the Baltics' independence first.

"We thought it would be best for the stability of the country if they did it themselves," White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said Thursday.

Brent Scrowcroft, the president's national security adviser, said during an interview on the Cable News Network yesterday that the Soviet government will act on the Baltics by tomorrow.

Even if it does not, Mr. Bush's aides say, the president is prepared to proceed.

Mr. Landsbergis appealed personally to Mr. Bush last weekend for U.S. recognition of Lithuania's sovereignty. The president said yesterday that he had thanked the Lithuanian leader for his patience.

He called Mr. Landsbergis' comments over the past few days "statesmanlike" and "extraordinarily well-reasoned."

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