As NATO leaders prepared to meet in Romania, Germany repeated its opposition Tuesday to US-backed plans for Ukraine and Georgia to join the alliance, according to Europe News.

Government sources said the time was not yet ripe for the two former Soviet republics to join the alliance`s a Membership Action Plan (MAP), a key step to full membership.

Germany was not opposed in principle to Ukraine and Georgia joining the MAP, but felt that conditions in the two countries were not conducive to this at present, the sources said.

They cited the lack of support among the population of Ukraine for such a move and Georgia`s involvement in regional conflicts.

NATO leaders are due to meet from Wednesday to Friday in Bucharest to discuss the eastwards expansion of the 26-member alliance as well as its involvement in Afghanistan and strategies for the future.

The German sources said they did not expect the summit to call on Berlin to send troops to the volatile south of Afghanistan where the bulk of the fighting against Taliban insurgency is taking place.

Germany currently has around 3,250 troops based in the capital, Kabul, and the relatively peaceful north, where they are engaged in provincial reconstruction missions.

Earlier this week, President George W Bush toned down demands that Germany take on a combat role in the south.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to use the meeting in Bucharest to launch an initiative with French President Nicholas Sarkozy to stage a summit early next year marking the 60th anniversary of NATO`s founding.

German government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said the summit would be held jointly in the French city of Strasbourg and across the River Rhine in the German city of Kehl.