Rumsfeld to Attend Meetings in Chile, Europe
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2002 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will meet with defense leaders of the Americas on Nov. 18 and 19, then travel to Prague, Czech Republic, for the NATO Summit, Pentagon officials said today.
Rumsfeld will take part in the Defense Ministerial of the Americas in Santiago, Chile. All defense ministers of the Western Hemisphere, except Cuba, are scheduled to attend.
A senior defense official remarked that Rumsfeld's attendance is a measure of the importance that President Bush and the secretary place on these meetings. The secretary will attend the plenary session and make a presentation to the assembled ministers. He will meet with Chilean President Ricardo Lagos and will hold bilateral meetings with defense ministers of other countries. He will leave Nov. 19 to attend the NATO meetings. A U.S. delegation will remain in Santiago for the remainder of the ministerial.
The NATO Summit in Prague includes the heads of state and foreign ministers of NATO and the Partnership for Peace countries. Rumsfeld will join President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell.
The main business in Prague is extending invitations for the next round of NATO enlargement. Bush has said in the past that the United States favors a robust enlargement. The countries applying for NATO membership are Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Albania, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
The United States will also discuss capabilities initiatives within the alliance. Senior officials expect some announcements by NATO allies of concrete steps they will take to beef up airlift and sealift capabilities. They expect some countries to form a consortium to purchase high-ticket items.
The officials also expect approval for the NATO rapid reaction force proposed by the United States. The force would be able to fight the full range of conflict, be easily deployed and have the ability to sustain itself for a month.
Following the NATO Summit, Rumsfeld will hold bilateral conversations with the Slovakian defense minister in Bratislava and the Slovenian defense minister in Ljubljana. He is scheduled to return to Washington Nov. 23.