Relations with the United States were initiated on a limited scale in the early 1960s, and ambassadors were exchanged in 1964. But with the United States' increased involvement in the Vietnam War, relations deteriorated. In the late 1960s, following Romanian condemnation of the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia and the opening of the Paris peace talks, political relations between the two states improved significantly, but economic relations remained minimal because of United States restrictions on trade with Eastern Europe.
Evidence of improved relations between the nations was President Nixon's visit to Romania in August 1969--the first visit by an American head of state to a communist country since the 1945 Yalta Conference. Nixon received an enthusiastic welcome, and a wide range of international problems were discussed. The countries agreed upon the mutual establishment of libraries, the opening of negotiations for the conclusion of a consular convention, and the development and diversification of economic ties. Ceausescu visited the United States in October 1970 to attend the twentyfifth anniversary session of the UN General Assembly.
Nixon moved to strengthen economic relations with Romania, and in 1972 the United States Congress debated granting most-favored- nation status. In 1975 a three-year agreement made Romania the first East European country to receive the special trade status, and in 1981 bilateral trade reached US$1 billion. But because of persistent reports of human rights violations in Romania, and the regime's decision to impose an education tax on applicants for exit visas, the United States Congress hesitated to renew most-favored- nation status.
In November 1985, Secretary of State George Schultz visited Bucharest and warned that Romania could lose most-favored-nation status unless it changed its human rights policies. Both sides agreed to establish a system of consultation on human rights issues. Romania did not abide by the agreement, however, and at the beginning of 1987 it was removed from the list of countries allowed to export certain goods--mainly raw materials--duty-free to the United States. The United States Congress voted to suspend mostfavored -nation status for six months because of Romanian limitations of religious freedom, restrictions on emigration, and persecution of its Hungarian minority. The Reagan administration, however, succeeded in getting congressional approval for its recommendation to renew the status, hoping the action would encourage Romania to improve its human rights record.
In February 1988, Deputy Secretary of State John Whitehead visited Bucharest and restated United States disapproval of Romania's human rights policies. Ceausescu, in turn, accused the United States of meddling in Romanian internal affairs. Later the same month, the United States State Department announced that Romania had relinquished its most-favored-nation trade status.
The deterioration in relations continued, and in March 1989 the United States Department of State called off plans for a meeting with high-ranking Romanian officials, warning that a further crackdown against critics of the regime would have negative consequences for bilateral relations.
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