Romanian official : US can help Eastern EU members develop

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A Romanian official says the U.S. needs to have a strong presence in Eastern Europe before a summit on boosting development in the region.

Romania's presidency hosts the 12-member Three Seas Initiative on Sept. 17-18 where officials will discuss 40 regional government-approved projects that aim to boost interconnectivity in transportation, energy and the digital fields.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry will join regional leaders including Polish President Andrzej Duda and Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic.

Presidential foreign policy adviser Bogdan Aurescu told The Associated Press on Monday that the underlying goal is to reduce the economic gap between EU members in the West and East, saying the entire bloc and the U.S. "need to be more present in the region."