|Last update: 22-Feb-2005 17:39||NATO Update|
NATO leaders express unity on Iraq, reaffirm values
Meeting at NATO on 22 February, all 26 Allies agreed to contribute to NATO’s assistance to Iraq, strengthen political dialogue in the Alliance and expand its operation in Afghanistan.
Reaffirming the transatlantic link
“What binds us are the values,” said NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at a press conference with US President George W. Bush, “We will have differences of opinion, … but there is a lot more that we agree upon, and that is the bottom line and the basis for this great Alliance.”
President Bush said NATO was the “cornerstone” of the transatlantic relationship and that because of NATO Europe was “whole, united and at a peace”.
As a sign that differences over Iraq have been set aside, all 26 Allies are now contributing to NATO’s training of Iraqi security forces, either in Iraq, outside of Iraq, through financial contributions or donations of equipment.
Heads of State and Government also endorsed the importance of giving the Alliance a stronger political role, where political subjects of importance to transatlantic security would be discussed at NATO.
The Secretary General told reporters that he would put forward specific proposals for enhancing NATO’s political agenda.
Alliance leaders discussed the ongoing expansion of NATO’s presence in Afghanistan, as well as enhanced cooperation and coordination with the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom.
NATO’s commitment to the Balkans and its engagement in the broader Middle East were also discussed.