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Background Briefing by DoD Official to NATO Informal Ministerial

Presenter: Senior Defense Official
September 25, 2006

        SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: The first day of this trip we'll be going into Montenegro. We'll be there briefly. There will be a meeting with the Prime Minister, the leadership of the government.

        As you know, Secretary Rumsfeld is going to be the first senior U.S. government official to be in Montenegro since they became independent in July. It's an important visit for a number of reasons, but primarily the Montenegrins have indicated that they would like to be part of the effort to fight the global war on terror, and they have indicated that their willingness is something they would like to discuss further with the Secretary when he comes in to visit. So that'll be an item that will be on the Secretary's agenda.

       When we go into Albania, we'll be going in for their SEDM. And what's going to be important in the SEDM is there's a -- this meeting has -- this will be the 11th meeting, I believe, and it's a chance for these Balkan countries to continue to talk to themselves and the United States about strategic partnerships and about a number of issues regarding NATO and NATO involvement that we think are, and they think are important.
       One thing we can point out, too, is that Albania -- we very much appreciate the fact that the Albanians already have forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the Secretary certainly will be expressing his thanks for that as well.

       With that, I'm starting to lose my voice already, so if you've got one or two questions about this, we can get --

      Q (Off mike) There is a suggestion that Montenegro might provide forces for either Iraq or Afghanistan or anything like that?

      SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I would say that's on the table. I would say that there will be discussion about what kind of involvement they foresee in the global war, and certainly any kind of support for specifically the Central Command region would be greatly appreciated.

      Anything else? Okay.

      Q (Off mike.)

     SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I'll get that for you, Jim. I'm not sure of the specific number, but I can get it for both countries for you.

     Okay.

      Q (Off mike) -- out of NATO on Montenegro and the Partnership for Peace?

     SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: We certainly support this effort, and it is a step -- an integral step -- for Montenegro to -- joining NATO.

     We certainly -- on the issue of the Partnership for Peace, we appreciate their willingness to be part of that, and we certainly support it.

     Q Could you comment at all on -- can you comment at all on the extension of the troops in Iraq and what the secretary may be thinking about the Army and its condition at this point?

      SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I think I'll just leave it to what the Secretary said today at the press conference. You know, it's not your first choice, but it is something -- our military are professionals, and we -- I would just say that we really do appreciate their ability to adapt to changes on the battlefield. And I think beyond that it's just what the Secretary said today.

     Okay, I'm losing my --

     Q Thank you.

 

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