26-27 Apr 2007

Afghanistan, missile defence top Oslo agenda

NATO Foreign Ministers reiterated their belief that US missile defence plans do not upset the strategic balance in Europe and expressed optimism on the progress in Afghanistan.

The two subjects were the focus of discussions at an informal meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in Oslo, 26 and 27 April.

We concluded that we are making progress and making a difference,” said NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on Afghanistan.

Ministers discussed increasing training for the Afghan national army through the deployment of additional NATO-led mentoring teams.

They also discussed counter-narcotics and stepping up civilian and military efforts in a comprehensive approach to assist Afghanistan.

No upset of balance

On missile defence, the Secretary General stressed “that the principle of the indivisibility of security is strongly supported by the Alliance”.

Mr. De Hoop Scheffer said discussions on missile defence will continue in NATO, as mandated at the November 2006 Riga Summit, and in “full transparency”.

He stressed however that “there is a full understanding that the plans cannot, will not and do not upset the strategic balance in Europe”.

Missile defence was also the focus of a meeting of the NATO Russia Council, with NATO Foreign Ministers exchanging views with their Russian counterpart (see separate story).

Kosovo, enlargement

Ministers also discussed Kosovo and NATO enlargement.  On Kosovo, Ministers reiterated their unanimous support for the Ahtisaari package, and their hope that the United Nations Security Council will pass a resolution based on that package as soon as possible.

On enlargement, Ministers looked forward to next Spring's NATO Summit in Bucharest, and agreed that aspirants must continue their reforms, in NATO’s Membership Action Plan, in the intervening period.

Informal meetings of NATO Ministers are held each year in addition to formal meetings. Informal meetings have no fixed agenda and no formal decisions are taken; they are an opportunity for ministers to discuss freely key issues on the Alliance's agenda.