From the event

  • Weekly press briefing by NATO Spokesman, James Appathurai
Palace, Brussels

12 Mar. 2008

Press briefing

by the NATO Spokesman James Appathurai, and technical briefing on defence against terrrorism and missile defence by NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment, Peter Flory

JAMES APPATHURAI (NATO Spokesman): Colleagues, sorry to make you wait. I was trying to track down our briefer, who seems to have disappeared somewhere, so hopefully he'll show up one of these days. We have called back and they are trying to find him. 


Q: (Inaudible)...

APPATHURAI: I don't have a clue. Let me... sorry. Thank you for waiting for me. Normally I try not to make you wait, but let me update you on a few things and I'll be happy to take your questions, and if Peter shows up well, all the better.

The first thing I was going to do was to update you on a series of technical briefings that we're planning to hold in the run-up to the Bucharest Summit. The first one was supposed to be on defence against terrorism and missile defence. That's today. We'll see how that goes.

Next week we hope here to have a briefing on cyber defence and where we are, where there has been substantive progress in NATO in the last little while in terms of taking forward our cyber defence approach within the Alliance. So we will bring, I believe, two experts down to brief you.

Ha! He appears. Peter, have a seat.

Let me stop and I'll do my business afterwards. Let me then take this opportunity, first, to say that at least the first technical briefing will, indeed take place, and to thank Peter Flory, F-L-O-R-Y, who is our Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment, for coming down and taking the time to provide a technical briefing for you on defence against terrorism and on missile defence within NATO. And then he'll be happy to take your questions on these subjects.

Of course, we're working hard on these issues in the run-up to the Bucharest Summit. And then I'll let him go and I'll complete my own press briefing afterwards. Peter.

PETER FLORY (Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment):  Okay, thank you James. After what happened to Mr. Massoud back in September 10th, 2001 I always get nervous when I get in with a bunch of journalists and all these technical devices in front of me.

Every time we have a counter-IED briefing I think about all the ways you can make things blow up, but I know you've got everybody well-vetted.

APPATHURAI: Oh yes, we've patted them all down.

FLORY: Okay, good afternoon, I'm Peter Flory, as described I'm the assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment. I'll give you a rundown first on the defence-based terrorism program and then where we are on missile defence.

James, give me, time-wise, I need to...

APPATHURAI: Yeah, shorter is better.

FLORY: ...wheels-up about quarter of, because we had a lot of trouble getting down here, and I've got people waiting for me.

I don't know how much you know about the Defence Against Terrorism Programme of Work. That title is kind of self-explanatory, but it's a program that NATO developed after the Madrid bombings in 2004. Obviously it's worked. It was, you know, already relevant after 2001, frankly, over the last couple of decades, but the Madrid bombing really brought this problem into focus. Strictly as an immediate threat to NATO countries, both in their homelands, and then also in time as NATO took on more challenging missions, particularly in Afghanistan, of course the threats that these kind of things did to our forces deployed in the field.

So the program was set up in 2004, started out with seven programs, expanded to 11 now. I'll give you a quick listing of them towards the end.

Basically what we... the value of the program, in my view, is that it provides a programmatic framework, it provides a forum in which information, technology, best practices and other tools can be brought together. There's a tendency to view it sometimes as purely a technology program. Technology is a very important part of it, but it's not at all the only part, and a lot of the technology part is... part of it involves developing technology or maybe affecting the course of development of technology that's already out there being developed. In some cases actually developing prototypes for particular items of equipment.

But it's also about what I call sort of socializing, sharing and socializing technology. You've got 26 countries, 26 sets of industry, plus all the industry in non-NATO countries that are working on many of these challenges. Not necessarily a whole lot of visibility across all of these nations, across all of these technology areas. So that's one of the things we've tried to foster.

We've had 45 technology demonstrations since the program was created. I've attended a couple of those, and they impressed me as one of the most efficient ways of sharing, not just technology, the knowledge about technology is out there, but how different bits of technology might relate to each other and might be able to support each other to become even more effective.

We also do some sort of non-technical things. For example, in NATO we developed something called STANAGs, Standardization Agreements, which is a sort of a subset. And actually I shouldn't call it non-technical, because it's technical in the sense that it talks about having equipment, or tactics, techniques, procedures that make us more interoperable and to the extent that there are solutions, interoperability STANAG solutions to terrorism-type challenges. We also work on that as well.

A big part of this, though, is again we've got technology work that involves networking. There's also a broader networking aspect here. And one of the most useful things I think we do is get together twice a year for what we call Counter-IED Day and in the course of that we bring together experts from the field, from the commands, technology experts, intelligence experts and try to have a discussion on what's the state of the intelligence, what's the state-of-the-art on the threat side, how are we doing on the response side? Again, a lot of the... the biggest value there, I think, comes out of having all these people, many of whom spend most of their time in Afghanistan, bringing them altogether with experts so they can share ideas and share knowledge.

I referred a couple of times to TTPs. I don't know if I said what that meant. I apologize. That's kind of a NATO habit, to speak in acronyms and riddles. Tactics, techniques and procedures. Those are the things that they aren't necessarily a piece of equipment with which you might find an IED or a technology solution to how to disarm them, but how you would deal with the situation and how would you patrol, how you prepare a patrol and things like that.

An important part of this program is the cooperation of some of our partner nations. All of the NATO nations participate in various ways and I'll list the lead nations briefly in a second. But a couple of our partners in particular, not surprisingly typically partners that are in the field with us in Afghanistan, or Kosovo or elsewhere, that have resources, that have technology to bring to bear, that have interest in solving the problem, and energy, a couple of cases, Sweden, Finland, Austria, also Ukraine.

Two of our programs are open to partners on a full-time basis. The counter-IED program, which given the nature of the IED threat is, I would say, our number one priority, but also the related program of dealing with explosive ordinance, the so-called EOD program, and we recently decided to, on a case by case, is open all of the programs to partner participation because we realized that partners, in many cases, have a great deal to add here.

I'm going to flip to missile defence quickly. The… when we talk missile defence now we're mostly talking territorial missile defence.  As you know, NATO has done work on theatre missile defence and I'm happy to refer to that if anybody wants me to.  This work on theatre by the way is important because it could form part of a solution to a territorial missile defence tasking but, as I think most of you know that, sort of, the current main pillar of NATO territorial missile defence work is the so-called missile defence feasibility study, MDFS, that was completed in 2006.  A very, very long document but the key finding was missile defence is feasible within the assumptions and limitations of the study.  It was a basic finding that NATO that, yes, this is something that can be done.  It did not include the proposed US third site.  So it… in June of last year, the defence ministers tasked us to go back and, sort of, rerun the numbers and rerun the maps and everything else, plugging into the equation the proposed US third site.

That is work that we're completing now in preparation for the Riga Summit where… excuse me, Bucharest, Riga was the last one… Bucharest Summit where we are helping to provide information both on the policy side, which my office doesn't do so much, but on the technology side that will allow ministers, heads of states of government, to have informed discussions and potentially make decisions on a NATO approach to missile defence.  I mean, I think the Bucharest Summit has the potential to be a very important summit on this topic.  We'll see what actually happens but I think the potential there is substantial.

What are some of the key questions on missile defence?  I mean, I think you're familiar with them, some of them have to do just with the characteristics, for example, of the US system.  How much coverage does it provide?  Obviously, a relevant part in deciding the question of what might NATO then have to decide?  The usual questions of cost efficient effectiveness against things like counter measures, debris, implications for arms control and non-proliferation measures… basically, questions that have been part of debate on missile defence for a number of years.  However, also, a sense that the debate on missile defence is not the debate on missile defence that it was in 1983 when Ronald Reagan made his speech unveiling the strategic defence initiative.  I think there's a broad understanding at NATO of all the ways in which the world has changed, in which the threat has changed, in which traditional assumptions on missile defence may no longer be valid and we're working through that now.

I mentioned the coverage of the US system.  The flipside of that is, of course, what would be uncovered and what would be options that NATO might develop and how might it provide coverage of the areas that aren't covered under the general concept of the indivisibility of security, which is a theme that the secretary general has stressed in all of his statements on this regard; the idea that for an alliance like NATO, where collective self-defence is the core purpose of the alliance, the need to provide an indivisible defence for our different alliance members.  So we're looking at what might be possible options for a NATO missile defence.  How might it connect with the US system and all the relevant questions of how much would that cost.

Going into Bucharest I'd say we have a high degree of consensus on a number of issues, we don't have a final sort of position, we don't have a final language, I would say.  There's considerable consensus; we have a greed document on the extent of the ballistic missile threat and if you… it tracks the trend of statements from preceding NATO summits that have found an increasing missile threat to NATO.  There's consensus, as I mentioned earlier, on the general feasibility of missile defence, although this is not a specific judgement on the US system, but on NATO's ability to defend itself with missile defence, there is a consensus on the level of coverage that the US system would provide if it's deployed.

This is something we worked in the CNAD, in the sub-groups, and we have an agreement on the quite substantial level of protection that would provide.  There are, and there's certainly a consensus on the concept of the indivisibility of security.  The questions, again, tend to be the familiar ones; you know, how much would this cost, how effective would it be, how… you know, where does it fit in in a broader concept of how you deal with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction?  Russia has obviously had a strong reaction to this, and I think, well, NATO nations have been very clear that Russia does not have a veto over NATO decisions.

You know, clearly it's an element in our discussion and a number of nations have made the point that, you know, that while Bucharest is an appropriate venue in which to discuss the possible missile defence in the future for NATO, there is… I don't think we're going to see a decision there, I don't see any nation pushing for a decision on an actual procurement program … an actual decision on a defence architecture.  It's more on a…  I can imagine a statement that would include elements of acknowledging the threat, acknowledging the contribution of the proposed US system, acknowledging the fact that missile defence can play a role in an overall strategy of dealing with proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  That NATO system can play a role and then coming back and tasking us on the international staff and the various sub-groups that we work with to develop options for consideration at a 2009 summit.

With that, James, I will wrap up and would be happy to take your questions.

APPATHURAI: Questions.  Let's start at the front and then we'll go back.

Q: Paul Ames,  Associated Press.  How much will it cost and how efficient is it? (Laughter)

FLORY: We are working on that, we don't have the final answers on cost.  The previous feasibility study, which envisioned a NATO-only system, in other words it did not assume the US system.  Looked… it identified one set of costs.  The addition of a system to be paid for by the US entirely obviously has a significant impact on that.  There's the… I haven't mentioned specifically the ALTBMD system by name, but if NATO decided to fill a gap left by a US system, the logical candidate would be the ALTBMD, that's Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence System, which is designed to defend against missiles with a range of up to 3,000 kilometres.  In other words, shorter range ballistic missiles.

These are all elements… this is something that NATO's already developing, in fact, as a tactical, deployable system to defend NATO forces, but which could, because of the characteristics of the ranges it's capable of defending against, could work also maybe in a slightly altered… optimized fashion as a defence against shorter range threats to some of the alliance countries.  So, we haven't come up with final costs yet, that's an important part of the work we're doing for Bucharest.  I wouldn't say that those numbers would be completely final because we won't have identified which option, if any, NATO might want to take.

In terms of effectiveness, again, that's one of the debates right now, I think we have agreement on the coverage, as I say, the sort of the basic coverage the US system would provide… questions, some nations have raised questions; well, what if against 100 missiles at one time, or what about counter measures?  In other words, people asking questions to see what does that really mean, and this is an ongoing debate and of course the… my personal view is most people don't expect any technical system, you know, realistically to be able to say you have 100 percent of anything with a complex matter like that, but I think that kind of misses the point.  I think when you look at the role of a system providing, obviously you want it to provide as much defence as possible but there's a policy question about what, you know, at what point is enough, enough?  And then you have to consider, what are the implications, not just for defence against an actual attack but also, for example, for deterrence?

This is one of the parts of missile defence that doesn't always get talked about, but the role of missile defence in potentially A, dissuading countries from developing missile capabilities in the first place, secondly in deterring an adversary who might think well, we've got missiles we potentially could use them but we can't be sure that we're going to have the intended effect and, you know, does it still make sense from our perspective, the adversary's perspective, to launch an attack.  So it's a complex question and I think it's more than just a mathematical formula but these are the kind of discussions that will have to be dealt with by NATO ministers and heads of state of government before making a final decision.

APPATHURAI: That's two, one, two, three… right across.

Q: (Inaudible)… if I could just fill up on that and perhaps try and push a little bit further on this cost question because it does seem strange that a few weeks before NATO leaders are going to have a substantive discussion on this that you can't give us some kind of ballpark figure on how much the, you know, the Bolton(?) option would cost, if it came to that.  I mean, I certainly remember that over a year or so ago there were figures coming out of industry, for example, suggesting that the incremental costs would be… could be relatively low.  One billion dollars is one figure that I remember and I remember it being explained that well if you shared that among 26 allies, then it could be made more palatable that way.  Could you perhaps have comment, perhaps, on that kind of ballpark figure aspect, if you like?

Second question is, by that same sort of time, people were hoping for a decision in Bucharest and you're saying that's not likely to happen now, could you explain, perhaps, why?

FLORY: No, what I said was that a… I don't see any nation pushing for a formal decision on a procurement, on a particular architecture.  I'm not saying I don't foresee any decisions, I can readily envision decisions, and I mentioned some of the elements of what one might involve, but I don't envision that we'll come out of it and be ready to go somebody with a (inaudible). I mean, nations are still… I mean, I take your point I'm extremely cautious of the proximity of the summit, but nations are still working this very hard.  I mean, I couldn't give you a number anyway because the nations haven't agreed on a cost figure.  Industry can give cost figures and those may, in fact, be useful ones but the work that's going on now is a NATO analysis so until the nations agree on it, it doesn't really exist.

I can tell you, and this is the number that's out there, the figures from the missile defence feasibility study, for a full-up NATO system, a tout (inaudible) system against all envisioned threats.  NATO-only… excuse me, a NATO-only system without the US component.  The number there was $20 billion to $27 billion euros over twenty years.  So, when you spend it over 20 years actually the numbers aren't in the context of what governments routinely spend on things they deem important, such as the defence of their citizens; the numbers are not heart-stopping at all.  The ALTBMD system, of course, is a little different because it involves a core NATO-funded command and control backbone as well as national sensors and that all gets done out of national budgets and that's a different animal.

Q: Chris Dixon for Agence Europe. I'll try and keep them brief.  Firstly, the system that you're looking at now and evaluating now, does the… is the US component an integral part of that, so are your calculations now based on an assumption that that system is going ahead and are you working with those figures?

And my second question is just to come back to the previous question, you say that the mathematical approach defeats the point, but I think that's also a key element of how effective it is as a deterrent, so I would ask you if you take the kind of missile that you're hoping to protect against and you fire at the kind of range you're expecting and you fire the kind of missile you're hoping to use against it, what rate of success do you have in those situations?

FLORY: The… what was the first question again?  And then I'll come back to the second…

Q: Whether the US system is an integral part of what you're looking at.

FLORY: Right.  The… well, the US so-called third site or third pillar is not agreed among all the potential participants and we're very cognizant of that and if it's not agreed and it doesn't exist then, obviously, it's not something we can work with but what the defence minister's asked us to do was, in effect… you've got this new element of the equation on the table here before NATO can make a sensible decision or have a sensible discussion we have to see how this changes our equation.  So, we have analyzed it but we haven't made any assumptions that, you know, get ahead of the political facts which are that the US and the Chechs and the Poles continue to discuss this. But, if they do agree on it, we will have done the work necessary for NATO to make it's own decisions.

In terms of effectiveness, I mean this gets into a… you can go back and forth on this… there is… first of all, the assumption is that NATO comes up with a system and decides it has x effectiveness that we're not going to publicize that level of effectiveness.  The question is, and a lot of this gets into psychology and what a particular adversary might think, and of course one of the reasons that I think there's more interest in missile defence is because we've realized after events of September 11th and other things that traditional theories of deterrence and assumptions of a given type of rationality on behalf of a potential adversary may not, you know, may not be reliable.

So, I mean, I take your point, if you deployed a missile defence system and said it had an effectiveness of 15 or 20 percent, you know, some adversaries might feel compelled to… or invited to take their chances.  On the other hand, if you… I can't quantify this, but the US has a system which is… it is deployed, which the US has said is not at its ultimate full capability, but I think that it would effect the calculations of a nation that we're considering launching a ballistic missile attack against the United States.  The fact is that this system is out there and has been tested.  People have been trained in its use.  It's a factor people have to grapple with.

You know, beyond that, you know, I don't know… I can't get into the heads of the people who we might be dealing with to say exactly at what point the system would start or stop having one particular effect.  But again, I think its… the basic point is I think its important to recognize that the effectiveness of missile defence is not something that is question of the last 20 or 25 minutes after a missile is in the air.  That's obviously a critical part of it and none of us would recommend a system that we didn't think was going to be… wasn't going to be effective.  But, the mere existence of a missile defence system, I think potentially, can have an effect even beyond that.

Q: (Inaudible)…The beauty of a missile defence systems is the case that political and technical aspects are absolutely connected.  In that case you have two difficulties, it seems, to ordinary people like me.  First, how come a US designated system, designated and was targeting… is designated to protect the US American contingent can protect (inaudible) Western Europe?  Second gap, similar to missile defence, how come a system designated to protect troops in campaigning can (inaudible) protect the so-called Southeast Flank?  And those two questions are both political and technical because we have US officers on one side deciding for European defence and only them, and on the other, who is going to decide how to deploy, when to deploy, and who is going also to give order?  In both cases, there is a problem.

FLORY: Okay, start at the end.  In terms of who decides, I mean, it's basically command and control.  NATO's been working with complex command and control relationships including over things invol--  you know, like nuclear weapons, for decades.  So, this is missile defence, it poses issues, it poses questions certainly in command and control, but I don't think they're beyond the realm of things we've been able to work out before.  And people recognize that, you know, when a missile is in the air you don't have time for a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, so the way I could envision meeting this challenge is by pre-agreeing a designated set of procedures and leaving that with the commanders.

Now, in terms of the, again working backwards here, the question on ALTBMD; the defining factor over, you know, on ALTBMD is not where it is but what is it trying to protect against, what threat.  And the threat is up to… the threat is designed to work against these missiles up to 3000 kilometres.  So it can perform that function from anywhere, it could provide it for a function from Afghanistan or some, you know, as yet unknown third country where it might be used to defend deployed NATO forces, or an NRF, or whatever.  But the same technical capabilities reside in the system if you put the same system in South-eastern Europe.

Now, your question is a good one because there's this sense of are there ways in which ALTBMD might be optimized for territorial defence as opposed to the more point defence role in a deployed situation and that's a fair question.  And the answer is yes, I imagine there are ways in which we might want to do things a little bit differently but the basic capability is surely a capability to defend against missiles launched from a range of zero to 3,000 kilometres.

Now, in terms of your first question, if I understood it correctly, you said, why is the US system suddenly able to defend Europe?  And again, I would defer to the US on detailed questions on the US system but the key element here is that for the first time there would be a censor and interceptors in Europe and that is what would extend the capability of the US system to defend Europe.

In fact, there's been some, you know, there's been some certain amount of uninformed reporting on this topic because I read recently, and quite recently considering that we've been debating this for a year, that the US third site is designed only to protect the US.  That's not accurate, again, the US government is the final source of these things but the fact of the matter is the US system already protects the US; what would be new if a third site were put in Europe would be the extent of protection of Europe, and as I mentioned earlier, we at NATO have done an analysis in NATO committee with technical experts from all the NATO nations and concluded, in fact, the US system would provide quite substantial coverage.

APPATHURAI: Two more, just there and there.

Q: In this new assessment of the study, updating of the study, are you considering the possibility of establishing a defence against other kind of threats that are not exactly missiles of short, minimal range?  For example, Spain is interested in possible third (inaudible)… for example, from Morocco or from Algeria with a different kind of technology or (inaudible)… like that.  Is that being introduced in this study on how…in that case?

FLORY: Yes.  We are looking at various scenarios and, obviously, elements of the intelligence analyst's analysis help build what those scenarios are, and we’re looking at defence against various types of technologies.  And I probably can't go into more detail on the actual threat side other than that in… with the work that's been done on the ALTBMD system already encompasses, and that's work that's been under way for a couple of years now; the kind of defence against the kind of shorter range threats that you're talking about, regardless of the point of origin.

APPATHURAI: Last question for…

Q: (Inaudible)…I got a question follow-up on the South-eastern Flank.  If I understood this correctly, NATO would have to fill this gap if the US system was deployed and this gap, usually, includes Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, and Turkey, if I'm not mistaken.  Now, the politically interesting question is, would this mean that if NATO decided to fill this gap that you would have any deployment on the soil of any of these countries?  In other words, would we have, for example in the case of Bulgaria and Romania, the same kind of discussions that we are having now with the Russians in these two countries, again, if we had deployments there?  Is this a technical background to it?

FLORY: I would say that the Russians have made clear their concern about the US system and with the prospect of a NATO system that would be linked up with the US system.  I don’t think they've couched it so much in terms of geography as to, you know, what countries it would be deployed in, but it looked at solely through the prism of Russia, I would assume Russia would have some kind of reaction there.  I mean, there's be various means to provide protection for the Southern tier, some of them could potentially involve ship-based assets, but certainly, a solution would involve ground-based assets as well.

APPATHURAI: Peter, thank you very much, you have been grilled like a rotisserie chicken but you did a great job.  Let me release you from duties, I will stay for a few more minutes to take your questions on all issues and update you on the secretary general's calendar, etc.  But once again, thank you very much for coming down.  The first in our series of technical briefings in the run up to Bucharest.

FLORY: Thank you.

APPATHURAI: I appreciate it.  I had mentioned, well, anyone… I see they're not interested in me anymore because they've all come to take their microphones away. (Laughter)  The next issue is, yes, just to quickly sum up technical briefings in the run up to Bucharest.  We have just had defence against terrorism and missile defence.  Next week will be cyber-defence against, again, here.  And then on the 26th of March, we will have a VTC with General Cohn, that's C-O-H-N, he is the head of the Coalition Training Effort in Afghanistan which is extremely substantial, as you know, and going quite well.  So we will have a VTC with him and then I will do a pre-summit preview, again, on the 26th.  I will try to get the secretary general to come and do it himself if he has the time to do it, otherwise I will do it on that day.

Two visits of note that I want to mention, then I'm happy to take your questions on any issue.  First, the secretary general will go to Poland tomorrow, he will meet with the president with the two ministers: foreign and defence.  He will give a speech and he will also meet with Polish soldiers who have been or who are going out on NATO operations.  Peter Flory will be accompanying for reasons that you can guess.

And on Friday, the secretary general will go to Kosovo.  He will meet with the president and the prime minister.  He will also meet with both of the communities, Kosovo-Albania, Kosovo-Serb, (inaudible) Kosovo and that will include north of the Ibar River.  That's really all I wanted to say in terms of particular issues but I'm happy to take your questions on anything that might be of interest.

Q: (Inaudible)… people from Itarich(?).

APPATHURAI: I… the program is not finalized as to where exactly he will go, but what I do know he will, himself, go north of the Ibar River.

I'll take these two.

Q: Staying with the Ibar River, in fact, your foreign minister, I think this week, expressed concern that UNMIK was somehow slacking in its activities in the run up to the take over from EULEX and I wondered what the NATO perspective was on UNMIK's level of activity at the moment, if you've heard any specific message from UNMIK.  And secondly, on the UN, for the Bucharest summit, can you confirm that Ban Ki-moon will indeed be attending?

APPATHURAI: Thank you.  NATO ministers, as you know, met very recently and they did not, in their… well, they had no final statement, it was simply an informal exchange of views, so there was no formal statement from them.  They did have an extensive discussion of Kosovo, including of course the role and activities of KFOR and of other representatives of the international community including UNMIK.  We have good cooperation with UNMIK. The secretary general, I am quite sure, will meet with the head of UNMIK tomorrow, sorry, on Friday when he goes.

UNMIK is, in many ways, responsible for much of what is going on in Kosovo on the non-military side and there is no doubt that COMKFOR is in very close contact with Mr. Ruecker  who is heading up the UN mission.  Would we want to see the closest possible cooperation between NATO and UNMIK? Yes, of course, but that is happening and we will certainly wish to see UNMIK continue to carry out its duties but I have not heard, within NATO, any discussion or complaint about the way in which UNMIK is carrying out its duties.

Yes, I can confirm that the secretary general… the two secretaries general have spoken, in fact, I can tell you they are really now in quite regular contact at a level which, in my experience at NATO, is unprecedented.  And Secretary General Ban has confirmed that he will be attending the high-level meeting in Bucharest on Afghanistan, which has now taken on, I think, quite substantial proportions in that President Karzai is expected to be there, Secretary General Ban, I hope, and I think we can hope with some confidence that both Mr. Barroso  and Mr. Solana will be attending.  Of course, all the troop-contributing nations, major donors… so this high-level meeting on Afghanistan will be, as I say, quite substantial and will be a place where they can discuss the future of the international effort in Afghanistan, and certainly Secretary General Ban's presence is very, very welcome indeed.  Next question.

Q: Something completely different; it's on Finland and the NRF.  I just saw a press release and I couldn't quite understand what they're prepared to do and what they're not prepared to do in the context of the NRF.

APPATHURAI: I'm not sure that the final details have been worked out exactly on what it is that they will be doing.  There are upcoming rotations for the NATO Response Force to which Finland will be contributing, and might I add that is also very welcome, this is the first partner that has signed up to work within the NATO Response Force and I think it will be of benefit both to Finland and to NATO because we have now had many years of contribution from Finnish forces and they contribute a substantial percentage of their forces to NATO operations.  The Secretary General and I standing behind him have seen them in action in Afghanistan, they were very, very high quality and their contribution is welcome.

For Finland, of course, there is a clear benefit as well, as there is for every nation contributing to the NATO Response Force.  The NRF is, in essence, a hot-house for learning the latest when it comes to inter-operability, when it comes to the full spectrum of operations.  This is the cutting edge of transformation with NATO and I think for any country, that's NATO countries and partners, there's a clear transformational benefit to being in the NRF.  So we certainly look forward to their participation.  Their commanders and our commanders will be in touch to set out and agree exactly how they will play a role.

Let's go back and then we'll come…

Q: Yes, James.  I wanted to know, as to Kosovo, since the EU is already deploying EULEX within the future should be replacing, basically, UNMIK, are you already having contacts, direct contacts, freeway contacts between with EU on this aspect?  Thank you.

APPATHURAI: There have been, as you know, regular informal staff-level contacts between NATO and the EU on a whole host of issues including on the situation in Kosovo.  KFOR is responsible for a safe and secure environment throughout Kosovo and they will provide for that.  Our interlocutor, KFOR's interlocutor, has been, until now, a UN mission in Kosovo and of course the Kosovo police service, there is a three-layer security structure, in essence, in Kosovo.  But NATO, sorry, KFOR will continue to carry out its mandate as the situation changes in Kosovo.

Q: Yes, James, I wonder whether you have any comment on what was said yesterday by Ambassador Rogozin on Georgia and the repercussions in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  I guess you still maintain that you support the Georgia territory and integrity and Russia has no veto on NATO decisions.  Thanks.

APPATHURAI: You should come and sit up here. (Laughter) No, I have to say normally I don't… we don't respond to each and every comment from Ambassador Rogozin because that would take quite a lot of time, but in this case I do think it is important to stress, as you say, that NATO allies fully support the territorial integrity of Georgia.  That's the first point.  Second, that no decision has, of course, been made on a possible invitation to Georgia to join the Membership Action Plan.  But, that any NATO decision on membership or Membership Action Plan is indeed taken by the NATO members and only by the NATO members without any outside vote, and no outside party has either a veto or a droit de regard, as the Secretary General says, on those decisions.

We'll go back there and then up here.  Thank you for your patience.

Q: (Inaudible)… Broadcasting Company. I'd like to go back to those NRF troops, like our government took the decision last Friday to take part and they explicitly said that Finland would not be taking part, (inaudible)… be on call.

APPATHURAI: Finland would not be on call…

Q: Right, so I'm asking you, do I… do you have a different understanding taking part in this rotation, because that was the part of the deal with the president?

APPATHURAI: The, as I say, the details now have to be worked out.  The Finnish government has just made its decision.  They have their, of course, policy position on this issue and whatever Finland wishes to be the policy position on this issue will be fully respected by NATO.  But now, the technical discussions have to begin and so that is what will happen.  So we have only now taken account of the Finnish decision, let us now have Finnish officials and NATO officials have their discussion and come to an agreement.  Please.

Q: Will this be discussed among the partnership countries in Bucharest?

APPATHURAI: Will what be discussed?  Will Finnish participation…

Q: And Swedish, you know, just for the partnership countries in Bucharest.

APPATHURAI: I don't know.  There is a Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council launch, as you quite rightly, as you know.  What will be brought up by ministers, I do not know in that subject.  I couldn't exclude it but I don't know that it's formerly an agenda discussion.

Q: Has Pakistan been invited and secondly, which day will it take place?  The first day of the summit or when?

APPATHURAI: The high-level meeting on Afghanistan will take place on the second day, and I'll give you the exact time.  It will be beginning at, well, we say that it will begin at 15:15, but since I have no doubt that every single meeting on this agenda will go over time, yes, on the third… but technically, it's supposed to begin at 15:15 and then we will see where it goes.

No, Pakistan is not invited to this meeting because, as I said, it is designed for, aimed at, troop-contributing nations, major donors, and international organizations.  And while we have a very close relationship with Pakistan on the military side and a growing relationship with Pakistan in the political sector which I hope will take a step forward again, well no, which I know will take a step forward again once the new government is formed.  Pakistan is not, for obvious reasons, not a troop-contributing nation inside Afghanistan and inside the ISAF mission.  So, to keep it within, let's say, the framework that had been established, they will not be present at the meeting.

Anyone else?  Wait, oh, at the wire.

Q: Something about Georgia and the connection of Georgian's RADAR with NATO, something like that I read.

APPATHURAI: I have seen that.  We have, with a number of countries not just Georgia, but a number of partner nations, programs to establish connections between their RADAR pictures of their own airspace and ours.  I might add that we have a very similar program of operation with the Russian Federation, which we call the Cooperative Airspace Initiative.  But also with other partners as well, and yes, recently we have, in essence, plugged in the Georgian system to the larger NATO system so that there is a greater visibility of a wider European airspace just as we have until… just recently had exercises in tests, successful tests, I might add, of plugging in the airspace picture of the Russian Federation with ours as well.