Updated: 20-Mar-2003 NATO Press Releases

(2003) 027

20 March 2003

Statement by NATO Secretary General,
Lord Robertson

Following the start last night of combat operations involving some allies, NATO's Permanent Representatives met this morning in both North Atlantic Council and Defence Planning Committee format. This afternoon there will be a meeting between NATO and partner countries in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.

In the North Atlantic Council Allies received briefings from both the US and UK representatives, and agreed to maintain regular and detailed briefing and consultations. Permanent Representatives also assessed the situation with regard to Turkey, and expressed their determination to continue to fulfill their treaty obligations to a member nation under threat. In the Defence Planning Committee the Allies reviewed the state of Operation Display Deterrence - NATO’s defensive measures in support of Turkey. NATO has already, by deploying equipment such as AWACs and air defence missiles, acted to help defend Turkey from any threat from Iraq and deter any aggression.

Last night, in response to the evolving situation, the NATO Defence Planning Committee approved changes to strengthen the rules of engagement for NATO forces in Turkey. These rules will ensure our forces can effectively carry out their mission, whatever the circumstances. NATO’s deployments are of course purely defensive measures, which remain strictly separated from other military operations in the region. If there is any attack on Turkey, NATO will fulfill its obligations under the Washington Treaty.

In the challenging days and weeks ahead, NATO will continue to meet and act as the essential forum for transatlantic security consultation. The coalition engaged in operations against Saddam Hussein's regime includes many NATO Allies and Partners. We have already started to discuss humanitarian and post-conflict issues, to which all Allies attach the greatest importance.

My own thoughts are with the coalition troops and the Iraqi people in these difficult times, and I look forward to an early end to the conflict.

News and information will routinely be posted on the NATO website.

Additional information:

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