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STUTTGART, Germany — The United States and Romania are scheduled to sign an agreement Tuesday that will allow U.S. forces to use the former communist nation for training, pre-positioning of equipment and, if necessary, staging and deploying.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to sign the accord during a visit to Bucharest, the Romanian capital.

“The Americans are coming. ... It’s what our grandparents and parents have waited to see for 60 years and what hundreds of thousands of Romanians who were detained in Communist prisons have hoped for,” Romanian Foreign Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu said Sunday.

The agreement would set the stage for talks in the next few months between the two nations’ military leaders on how the bases, which are being called “shared facilities,” would be used.

But before U.S. units can begin rotating into Romania, a headquarters unit must be established there, and needs for construction and other work have to be addressed, said Cmdr. J.A. “Cappy” Surette, a spokesman with the Pentagon’s U.S. European Command Liaison Office.

“Surveys have to be done,” Surette said. “An infrastructure that will be suitable for a headquarters element needs to be examined so we can find out what exactly that will entail.

“Also proper infrastructure, security, berthing, quality-of-life concerns: All those things will be looked at, to what degree I don’t know.”

Surette said that the Romanian sites could be ready to host ongoing rotations of U.S. troops by the early summer of 2007. The sites include the Smardan Training Range, Babadag Training Area and Rail Head, Mihail Kogalniceanu air base, and Cincu Training Range, according to an unsigned copy of the agreement obtained by Stars and Stripes.

Last summer, about 1,500 U.S. and Romanian troops conducted joint training in July at Babadag, 250 miles east of Bucharest.

State and Defense department officials have said that the bases would be run jointly by Romania and the U.S., and wouldn’t resemble U.S. bases in Europe that have family housing, schools and shopping centers. Instead, the bases would host troops — perhaps an entire brigade at one time — who would not be accompanied by their families.

Surette said the headquarters unit would consist of troops serving a one-year unaccompanied tour.

Romania has been a staunch ally of the U.S. during recent operations, having deployed forces to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The U.S. also is negotiating with Bulgaria, Romania’s neighbor to the south, to establish a similar arrangement for what the military calls “forward operating sites.”

The goals for the Eastern European Task Force were outlined in March during testimony to Congress by Marine Gen. James L. Jones, the EUCOM commander.

They include improved security in the region, better training opportunities for U.S., Romanian and Bulgarian troops, and quicker response “to areas of contention before they become areas of crises,” Jones said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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