ROME, MAY 30 -- Albanian Communist Party leader Ramiz Alia on Wednesday told the first U.S. official delegation to visit his country since 1939 that Albania wants to reestablish full diplomatic relations with Washington as soon as possible.

Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) said he had an "extremely long . . . lively, constructive" meeting Wednesday evening with Alia, whose hard-line Communist country has recently shown signs of easing its extreme isolationist policies.

Alia "asked me to convey to President Bush and Secretary of State {James A.} Baker their desire to establish full diplomatic relations as early as possible, and I certainly feel the time is right," Lantos said in a telephone interview.

"It is in the interest of both the United States and Albania" to reestablish relations, Lantos said. "We hope to have an embassy in Tirana by September or October."

Lantos, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and its subcommitte on Europe, said "Albanians have a long way to go" in improving their human rights record but said that should not stop the United States from resuming relations.

Another member of the U.S. delegation, Joe DioGuardi, a former Republican congressman from New York, quoted Alia as saying that Albania is interested in becoming a party to the Helsinki accords on human rights.

The official Albanian news agency, ATA, said Alia and Lantos had "warm and friendly talks" but gave no other details of the meeting, which was held in the People's Assembly in Tirana.

The United States long has accused Albania of human rights violations for denying freedom of worship and emigration and other rights. In the wake of popular uprisings that have toppled other communist governments in Eastern Europe, Albania is the sole remaining hard-line Communist state in the region.

The United States and Albania broke relations before World War II.

Lantos said Albania was "extremely eager" to pursue joint ventures with U.S. companies.

Albania severed ties with the Soviet Union in 1961 due to an ideological dispute, but recently has expressed interest in restoring ties with Moscow.

While Albania is reforming its political and economic system, it has avoided any promises of instituting sweeping reforms similar to those implemented by the other Eastern European nations.