Updated: 08-Oct-2001 NATO Press Releases

(2001) 138

8 October 2001

Audio file

by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson

Yesterday evening, the United States of America and the United Kingdom began military operations as part of the global campaign against terrorism.

As Secretary General of NATO, I received advance warning. Vice President Dick Cheney telephoned me before the first attacks.

I have just come from a meeting of the North Atlantic Council which met to review the situation and to reaffirm its full support for these targeted actions. The Permanent Representatives of the United States of America and the United Kingdom briefed the Council.

This operation is not directed against the people of Afghanistan. It is designed to strike against al-Qaida terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

NATO Ambassadors this morning expressed their full support for the actions of the United States and the United Kingdom, which follow the appalling attacks perpetrated against the United States on 11 September 2001. They reiterated their readiness to provide assistance as required. Specifically, they remain fully committed to implement the eight measures agreed on 4 October at the request of the United States.

In this context and following a specific request from the United States, the Allies today agreed that five NATO AWACS aircraft, together with their crews, will deploy to the United States to assist with counter-terrorism operations. This deployment, which was agreed by acclamation this morning, will allow US aircraft currently engaged in these operations in the United States to be released for operations against terrorism elsewhere.

NATO Ambassadors welcomed France's intention to provide increased support by French AWACS aircraft in Bosnia-Herzegovina as backfill in order to facilitate this NATO deployment.

Yesterday's actions were carried out by two NATO Allies. Other NATO Allies have pledged direct military support as this operation unfolds. The Alliance itself will continue to provide military and other support, to consult on the implications for its security, and to take whatever defensive measures are necessary.

The campaign to eradicate terrorism has reached a new stage. It will be pursued on many fronts with determination and with patience. The Alliance stands ready to play its role. I will be consulting over the next couple of days, first of all with Prime Minister Chrétien in Canada this evening and I will personally congratulate and commend the offers of support that have been made by Canada at this time and indeed the support that has already been given by this country. And on Wednesday I will be in the White House to meet President Bush. I will be there first and foremost to express sympathy to his nation on the eve of the month's anniversary of these tragic attrocities but also to pledge the whole-hearted support of the entire NATO Alliance for America at this time of need.

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