NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson
and US President George W. Bush
after their Bilateral Meeting
THE PRESIDENT: It's an honor to welcome Lord Robertson back here to the
White House. NATO is an anchor of security for both Europe and for the
United States. And Lord Robertson is a very strong leader who is helping
NATO meet the challenges of the new century.
Since September the 11th, NATO has been a bulwark in the fight against
terror. On September the 12th, for the first time in history NATO invoked
Article V, declaring an attack on one of its members is an attack on all.
NATO did so to show its strong support for the United States. And NATO
nations are backing up those words with action. More than a dozen of our
NATO allies are contributing forces to the war against terror in Afghanistan.
NATO aircraft have been deployed to patrol our skies in support of America's
And the airspace of NATO members has been critical to coalition air operations.
The United States is deeply, deeply grateful for this support.
This past weekend in Texas, I thanked Prime Minister Tony Blair for the
many valuable contributions of Great Britain. Today, on behalf of the
American people, I thank Lord Robertson for his leadership and for the
help of our NATO friends.
The United States will consult closely with our allies as we move forward
in the war against terror. This is an important moment for NATO. And as
we prepare for the NATO summit in Prague later this year, we must address
some critical challenges. NATO must develop new, flexible capabilities
to meet the threats of the 21st century.
We must take on new members, securing freedom from the Baltic to the
Black Sea. And NATO must forge a new relationship with Russia that is
even more constructive, so that we can finally and forever abolish the
divisions that are relics of a previous era.
These are difficult challenges, requiring determination and leadership.
And I'm so happy that NATO has a strong visionary leader in my friend,
Lord Robertson. It is our fourth meeting since I've taken office, and
I look forward to many more.
Lord Robertson, I appreciate you coming.
SECRETARY GENERAL ROBERTSON: Mr. President, thank you very much for these
kind words, and I'm delighted to be here at the White House today, because
it was on this very day in this city, 53 years ago, that a group of nations
came together to create a common defense against a common threat, by saying
an attack on one country would be deemed to be an attack on all.
It was, however, a very different world when NATO redeemed that pledge
last September. But although the world has changed, the ties that bind
the 19 NATO nations together have not, because this is an alliance built
on shared principles and not on convenience, built on permanent values,
not on expediency.
So as the President has said, it should be no surprise that so many NATO
nations -- all the NATO nations -- are at the forefront of this war on
terror. NATO is the kind of alliance that you need, becuase when facing
a long-term strategic challenge, there's no substitute for long-term strategic
partners, partners that you can trust, and who trust you.
It's also the kind of alliance that works because when the going gets
tough, the shaved training, standards and structures are what welds different
nations into an effective whole. It's also the kind of alliance that lasts,
because it adapts and modernizes, as it will indeed do at our summit meeting
in Prague, in November of this year -- taking in new members, rising to
new challenges, creating new capabilities to defeat new enemies and new
So, today, the President and I discussed the common threats that we face,
both in Europe and in North America, including from weapons of mass destruction.
And NATO allies will work together to overcome these threats.
And I say this to you, that we will succeed becuase the record shows
that NATO is an alliance that has served its members well in the past,
is serving us well in the present, and as we continue to transform, will
serve us well into the future.
Mr. President, this is indeed the fourth time that we've met. This is
NATO's 53rd birthday. It's strong strong as it ever was. And it remains
strong becuase the ties that bind us together are enduring, and they lie
in the common values of freedom and democracy and of liberty.
Thank you very much for your kind words ...
THE PRESIDENT: On that note, why don't I go buy you a meal?
SECRETARY GENERAL ROBERTSON: That's very kind -- very generous of you.