|Updated: 07-May-2003||May 2003|
Lord Robertson visits United States and Canada
NATO Secretary Lord Robertson travelled to the United States from 4 to 5 May and Canada on 6 May for conferences and meetings with senior officials and members of Congress.
In Washington D.C. Lord Robertson delivered the opening address at a NATO-Ukraine conference. He also met for talks with President George Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and members of the Senate Foreign Relations and Senate Armed Services Committees.
The Secretary General spoke about NATO’s continuing transformation and highlighted the importance of the Alliance’s decision to take over command of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, saying it was “undoubtedly another watershed moment, as important as the first NATO involvement in the Balkans.”
Lord Robertson added that it was now “quite natural” for NATO decision-makers to look beyond Afghanistan to consider a possible role for the Alliance in post-conflict Iraq, but that NATO was not at the stage of taking decisions.
Calling for capabilities
The Secretary General then travelled to Montreal, where he delivered a keynote speech at the international economic forum, Conférence de Montréal, and on to Ottawa for meetings with Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Minister of Defense John McCallum.
Lord Robertson stressed the importance of retooling NATO with new capabilities that would allow it to face new security threats and challenges.
“ We are having to replace a Cold War sumo wrestler with a 21st century fencer,” he said, “For NATO that means new capabilities to defend against chemical and biological weapons, give commanders a surveillance picture of the ground battlefield, and increase our heavy airlift and air tanker fleets.”