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Bush Praises U.S.-NATO Partnership Against Terror

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2006 – President Bush today called NATO’s chief “a very strong leader” who has ably led the organization in confronting the 21st-century challenge of global terrorism.

“You’ve made NATO a values-based organization that is capable of dealing with the true threats of the 21st century,” Bush told NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer after a White House meeting here.

The United States is impressed that NATO has assumed many of the reconstruction and security responsibilities across Afghanistan, Bush told Scheffer.

“I appreciate your leadership. I particularly appreciate the fact that you have led the 26 nations of NATO into Afghanistan to help this young democracy,” Bush said. “You know what I know: that the real challenge for the future is … to help people of moderation and young democracies to succeed in the face of threats and attacks by radicals and extremists who do not share our ideology (and) have kind of a dark vision of the world.”

The NATO leader agreed with the president, noting that NATO “is delivering security in the 21st century,” not only in Europe, but also “far away from NATO’s traditional area.”

And, like the United States, NATO also is defending human values across the globe, Scheffer said. In Afghanistan, he noted, NATO forces are assisting the Afghan government “to establish democracy, to establish human rights, to establish those values.”

Scheffer expressed remorse for Afghan civilians killed in fighting. He said such incidents are always a tragedy.

He urged people to “look at the broader picture” and focus on progress in Afghanistan. “Girls did not go to school when the Taliban was running Afghanistan; now they go to school. Now there is a president. Now there is a government,” Scheffer said. “Civilian victims are a tragedy, but we are there in favor of democracy.”

He said enemy fighters “are there to destroy democracy, and they are there to destroy our values.”

Both leaders said they are looking forward to attending NATO’s senior leader summit held in Riga, Latvia, Nov. 28-29.

“The Riga summit is a time for us to celebrate the great successes of this partnership, Mister Secretary-General,” Bush said. “And, I will be there reminding our partners that we have a lot of work to be done in the noble cause of peace.”

At the summit, Scheffer said, “we will see a 21st-century NATO delivering security in many, many places of the world with 50,000 soldiers, including many Americans, on three continents.”

The secretary-general said NATO is up to the challenges it’s facing. “NATO is delivering security, and NATO will continue to do this, indeed with its presence but also with global partners because terrorism, proliferation, failed states and failing states are global threats we have to face and to counter on a global scale.”

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