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Rumsfeld Slated to Attend NATO Meetings in Romania

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2004 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is slated to attend the fall NATO informal defense ministerial meetings held this year in Poiana Brasov, Romania, a senior DoD official said here today.

Some likely topics of discussion at the Oct. 13-14 event, the official told reporters at the Pentagon, include NATO military transformation, the status of alliance operations in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq, plus other issues.

Romanian Minister of Defense Prof. Mircea Pascu will host the meetings; NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer will also attend.

The gathering will also feature a NATO-Russia defense meeting that will likely address Russo-Alliance cooperative efforts in confronting global terrorism.

Romania is one of NATO's newest members, having joined the 26-member alliance on March 29, 2004. The eastern European country is a valued U.S.-coalition ally in the war on global terrorism, the official pointed out, noting Romania "has been very forward leaning" in providing troop support in Iraq."

There are now about 700 Romanian forces serving in Iraq, the official said. And more than 400 Romanian troops are supporting Operation Enduring Freedom operations in Afghanistan. Another 130 Romanian troops, he noted, are assigned to NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

The NATO was created April 4, 1949, as a bulwark to Soviet encroachment in Europe following World War II. The alliance's basic role today continues to be to safeguard the freedom and security of its member countries by political and military means, according to the organization's Web site.

In recent years NATO has played an increasing role in global crisis management and peacekeeping in places like the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq.

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