by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitē at NATO HQ
James Appathurai (NATO Spokesman): We have time for opening statements and then questions. Secretary General, please.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen (Secretary General of NATO): First of all, it's a great pleasure for me to welcome the President of Lithuania to NATO Headquarters. Actually, it's the second visit of the President to NATO Headquarters during my tenure as Secretary General of NATO. I take it as yet another testimony of the strong Lithuanian commitment to our Alliance. So, Madam President, it's really a great pleasure for us to meet with you today.
Let me also use this opportunity to express my strong appreciation of the significant Lithuanian contribution to our mission in Afghanistan. And I would like to stress that your military contribution to our mission in Afghanistan is without caveats. You're also leading a Provincial Reconstruction Team. We appreciate that very much. Your brave soldiers do a great job in Afghanistan.
The President and I have also discussed the future of NATO with a particular view to our new Strategic Concept, which will be approved at the NATO Summit in November. We agree that it is of utmost importance that we reaffirm what is, and what was, and what will remain, the core task of NATO, namely collective defence according to Article 5 in the NATO Treaty.
This also implies a visible presence of NATO all over allied territory. And speaking about the future, a strong and credible collective defence also takes continued reforms of our armed forces with a view to making them more flexible, more mobile, more deployable. And in the future a credible territorial defence will also require a credible missile defence system to protect our populations against potential missile threats, and I do hope that the Alliance will decide later this year that missile defence is an Alliance mission.
And a final remark on Afghanistan. I expect progress, new momentum in Afghanistan this year. Not least because of the increase in the number of international troops. A key element in our strategy is to hand over responsibility, lead responsibility, for the security to the Afghans themselves. To that end we need to train and educate Afghan soldiers and Afghan police, and therefore I attach strong importance to our training mission in Afghanistan and I urge all allies, including Lithuania, to contribute to our training mission so that we can fulfil our goal to eventually hand over responsibility to the Afghans themselves.
Dalia Grybauskaitē (President of Lithuania): Thank you very much. My visit is second time already during the eight months. As head of state I want to demonstrate that Lithuania is engaging actively into the future discussions of NATO's place in the world, in global changing world. Why we are very, I will say, strongly participating in discussions for new Strategic Concept. Our engagement in Afghanistan stays firm and we are taking into account our (inaudible) engagement, one of the largest of the allies members in Afghanistan. We committed to stay until 2013. Here we're fulfilling all our obligations in Afghanistan.
The new future relations with the fed countries is also very important for us, including NATO's and Russia's relations. Why Lithuania is following carefully what is happening, is open for cooperation. But we're very, I will say, open for discussions and cooperation, but very based on realism and constructive dialogue and reciprocity from both sides.
All these elements have been discussed with the chairman and also with the ambassadors of member states.
We will be committed for the finalization of the documents which will be adopted this year. For the NATO we think that 2010 will be the most important year; changing the NATO's face, finding new place of NATO, and designing new relations with Russia and fed countries.
So why I congratulate President that his start was very effective, very resultative and we fully support the future reforms, not only in the policies, in concepts, but also internally of the organization.
James Appathurai: Are there any questions? I think not. Thank you very much.
Dalia Grybauskaitē: Okay.
James Appathurai: Thank you.