The new government of Romania, anxious to gain commercial credits and trade privileges from the Bush administration, has offered the United States some of its unused oil refining capacity to produce scarce jet fuel for U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia, Romanian Ambassador Virgil Constantinescu said.
"There has been an interest" from the Bush administration in accepting the offer, said Constantinescu, who came to Washington after the overthrow of the Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu nine months ago.
"We are discussing ways to render assistance, at least symbolically," he said.
State Department officials confirmed that Romania has offered the use of its refineries if it can get the crude oil from a U.S. oil company or some other source. U.S. and Romanian officials said Romania also has offered medical brigades for service with the multinational force in Saudi Arabia.
"They are being really quite forthcoming ... and interested in seeing what they can do to help," said a State Department specialist on Eastern Europe who requested anonymity.
Although its help in the current crisis in the Middle East may be winning the Romanian government points with the Bush administration, the State Department specialist stressed that it is unlikely to win the commercial credits and trade concessions it wants until it moves further in the area of human rights and political reforms.
Romania's tactics show how countries are using the crisis in the Middle East in an attempt to curry favor with Washington. At the same time that Constantinescu was inviting reporters to a luncheon in the embassy here, Romanian Prime Minister Petre Roman told the New York Times in Bucharest he would like to come to visit President Bush and answer congressional questions about his country.
While acknowledging that Romania wants credits and trade concessions, Constantinescu stressed there is no link between that and its assistance in the Middle East.