|Updated: 23-Mar-2006||NATO Speeches|
15 Mar. 2006
by the NATO Spokesman
SPOKESMAN (NATO): Friends, I've just got a few things to run through. I'll let you go. In fact, I have two things to mention to you and then I'll take a few of your questions at least, because we have to be out of this room in about 10 minutes.
One is that the Secretary General will be going to Washington for meetings beginning next Monday with. President Bush, Secretary Rice, Secretary Rumsfeld. He'll be meeting with the Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Admiral. Edmund Giambastiani, General Smith's predecessor. All on Monday. He will be giving a speech at the American University on Tuesday. And hopefully, there will other meetings as well. But these are all a little tentative.
You'd not be surprised that the meetings with President Bush, Secretary Rice and Secretary Rumsfeld will be focussed, I think, on two main issues. One is on NATO's current operations and missions and in particular Afghanistan , Kosovo and Iraq. We just had a briefing last week by the general who is commanding the NATO training mission in Iraq as well as the vice-chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces who talked about the role that the Iraqi Armed Forces have played, particularly in recent events and the way in which NATO is helping them to do what they are doing.
They will also look forward to the Riga summit. You know that transformation will be a major element of this summit: improve NATO's deployability, its sustainability in the field way. It pays for what it does. All of these things will come up as well, potentially, possible training initiatives by NATO in Africa and/or the Middle East . And our relations with non-NATO, non-partner countries such as Australia , as was just mentioned. So again, I can't anticipate what will come up. But I can expect that to be the substance of the agenda.
The other element I wanted to mention to you was looking a little bit farther ahead: a high-level event, that's what we are calling it in Rabat , Morocco , on the 6th and 7th of April. The essence of this is the 26 ambassadors, the NATO ambassadors led by the Secretary General... we'll meet in Rabat with representatives from the seven Mediterranean Dialogue countries. That will include the Mediterranean Dialogue ambassadors here from Brussels and the political directors from the seven countries themselves.
And they will do two things: one is to assess what the Mediterranean Dialogue has achieved so far in the past 10 years and look forward to what potential further areas of cooperation might be put in place; and second, and this flows from that, of course, to look very concretely at the practical dimension to cooperation. For example they could consider Operation Active Endeavour. You know that there is interest in the part MD countries to contribute to that. They will also look, I'm reasonably confident, at joint peacekeeping. As you might know, for example, Morocco has contributed quite a lot to NATO peacekeeping operations in the Balkans. So this is an example of the kind of contribution they can make. Those are really the only two things I wanted to mention, considering the short time that we have in order to allow you to have time for questions, if you have any, on any issue.
Q: Is there any PSC meeting in the pipeline for the coming weeks because there hasn't been anymore since?
SPOKESMAN: I know that there is one planned. I can't give you the exact date now. But I know that there is one in the pipeline. If you want to come back to my office, I can tell you exactly what it is. But I know that there is one being considered.
Q: Can you give us an idea of the problem of the forces in ISAF...
SPOKESMAN: ... Afghanistan , an idea of the...
MODERATOR: ... timelines
SPOKESMAN: Yes, in essence, what we're looking at is expansion to stage 3, in other words to the south of the country in the summer, I would say June or July is the timeline towards which we are currently working. As you know, forces from NATO countries are already predeployed into the south. And when the Supreme Allied Commander has the sufficient forces and the appropriate arrangements in place for the south, he will then come to the North Atlantic Council and say to them: "I'm ready to go. I have what I need." At that point, those forces will have what we call "transfer of authority". They will transfer over to...to Sikar (?). So short version is June, July, August, around that.
Q: Speaking of calendars... timeline, is there any date yet set for the NRF exercise in Cape Verde ?
MODERATOR: A precise day?
Q: I mean date, I mean a timeline. I assume, by now, the preparations must be almost finalised.
SPOKESMAN: The preparations are almost finalised. But they are not quite finalised exactly. They are not 100% finalised because there are other potential conflicting events. That's the problem. There is something else that's supposed to take place. It's avant-garde. So they're trying to working it out. But it is supposed to be the end of June. I think within a week we should have an answer to this question. It was just raised last night by the Secretary General with the appropriate commanders. So I think by next Tuesday, we should have a final date for this.
Q: And just a subsidiary question, but obviously the Cape Verde authorities, I mean, have given their agreement. And all that is set, right?
SPOKESMAN: Not only have the Cape Verde authorities giving their full agreement. Indeed, they made the original offer, I have to say, to host the event. But the other countries of the region have also been fully informed. They may well send observers so that there is going to be full visibility of the relevant countries of the region as well of this event. So that certainly it is as transparent as possible. And this thing is a confidence building exercise rather than anything else.
Q: (INAUDIBLE) ... in Afghanistan , is it possible to have a stage four in November? Is that (INAUDIBLE) ?
SPOKESMAN: It's a good question. In simple terms, the basics are there. In other words, there are two main elements to this kind of expansion: one is an operational plan and roads of engagement; the second part is the generation of the forces. We already have an approved operational plan which covers the entire country. And much of the forces are already present in stage four. Those are forces that are currently under OAF-American Forces. So these are two major milestones whenever we talk about this kind of event. These are in a large sense, already in place. So is it feasible? Yes. Can I, at this point, say precisely when this might happen? Of course not, because there are other countries that are also participating. All the necessary arrangements would have to be in place. Countries would have to be comfortable that stage 3 had been accomplished in an appropriate way and then they can turn to stage 4. So there are all sorts of timing issues. But I do believe that, yes, it is feasible for the reasons that I gave. Last question, then we're going to have to get out, because I see some other people....
Q: ... would be deployed for each country?
SPOKESMAN: For stage 3?
SPOKESMAN: The general outlines are already clear. And that is that the United Kingdom has already announced an initial search, you're aware of this, of over 5,000 which will then diminish once the initial deployment has taken place. I think that number will drop to around 3,700 if I remember correctly. The Dutch have agreed to send, I believe between twelve and fourteen hundred. And the Canadians are sending 2,200. The Danes will also be sending a number in the low hundreds. And other countries are considering contributions. For example, the Australians might well send 200... 200 plus for PRT. And the Romanians, I'm informed, in the low hundreds as well. So these numbers are all relatively clear. As to what other elements will be added we will see. I am aware that my time has run out. So I'm so sorry but we'll bring this event to an end....