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Officials Chart Alliance Future at NATO Summit

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 4, 2009 – NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer introduced Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen as his successor in the alliance post during an end-of-summit press conference in Strasbourg, France today.

Scheffer shared the podium with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who co-hosted the summit.

Rasmussen pledged to continue the good work begun by Scheffer to transform NATO to handle the challenges of the 21st century. He will assume leadership of the alliance on August 1.

Scheffer said the summit of the 28 NATO nations went well, and European nations have pledged to send another 5,000 troops to Afghanistan.

Sarkozy complimented the role President Barack Obama played during his first NATO summit. He said the president was easy to work with, “he showed his leadership, he showed how committed he was” to the alliance.

Scheffer listed the accomplishments of the summit, including Albania and Croatia becoming full-fledged members of the alliance.

“In the summit declaration we say we welcome France’s decision to fully participate in NATO structures,” Scheffer said.

On Afghanistan, the NATO leaders discussed strategy, “and the alliance is united in the need for an overall reagional approach.” The alliance heads agreed more civilian personnel are needed and they offered long-term commitments to the fight, Scheffer said.

“They backed up this commitment with resources,” he said. “We have established a NATO Training Mission Afghanistan to oversee high-level training for the Afghan National Army and training and mentoring for the Afghan police.”

The alliance will deploy the necessary forces to support the Afghan elections in August, he said. NATO countries will provide 5,000 additional personnel and most will concentrate on providing security for the election activities.

“We will also maintain the trust fund to sustain the larger Afghan Army,” Scheffer said. “The bottom line is this: when it comes to Afghanistan, this summit and this alliance have delivered.”

The alliance chiefs also discussed NATO relations with Russia. The alliance members understand they must cooperate with Russia and want to do so, Scheffer said.

“We want to use the NATO-Russia Council to its fullest potential, to step up cooperation from Afghanistan to arms control to anti-piracy,” the secretary general said. “But we must also use the NATO-Russia Council to air our difference – and we have real differences.”

The Russia-NATO relationship can deliver more than it has to date if all parties take the necessary steps, he said.

“We will engage Russia in that spirit,” Scheffer said.

A final aspect of the summit was the future of the alliance. The North Atlantic Council agreed to update the 1999 strategic concept.

“The new concept, which will be agreed at the next NATO summit, will need to update the theory with what we already do – from piracy, to cyber-defense even to Afghanistan,” he said. “And it has to give direction to what NATO must do more in the 21st century.”

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NATO Secetary General Jaap de Joop Scheffer

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