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NATO says U.S. needs allies

NATO has told defence chiefs that NATO is essential for the future
NATO has told defence chiefs that NATO is essential for the future  

MUNICH, Germany -- NATO Secretary General George Robertson has warned the United States that it cannot fight battles single-handedly in a modern world.

"Even superpowers need allies and coalitions to provide bases, fuel, airspace and forces," Robertson said on Sunday.

"And they need mechanisms and experience to integrate these forces into a single coherent military capability."

The NATO chief was mounting a defence of the 19-nation alliance's relevance at a security conference in the German city of Munich.

Warning European nations that they must build their military capability to avert U.S. unilateralism, he also urged Washington to share defence technology with its European allies -- or face a choice between acting alone or not acting at all.

"NATO is not only a part of the campaign against terrorism -- it is an essential part," he said.

He said the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan reinforced the fact that modern military operation cannot be undertaken by a single country.

But he also warned that NATO had to evolve to safeguard its relevance.

"American critics of Europe's military incapability are right," he said.

"So if we are to ensure that the United States moves neither towards unilateralism or isolationism, all the non-U.S. allies must show a new willingness to develop effective crisis management capability."

CNN's Jamie McIntyre said: "Robertson, the first speaker of the meeting's second day, said he disagreed completely with critics who believe NATO no longer plays a big role in dealing with new global threats or simply lacks the political will.

"He said those critics have been wrong in the past and are wrong now, and that NATO plays a central part in the war on terror."

The 38th annual meeting has gathered 250 delegates from 43 countries.

The fight against terrorism dominates an agenda which also included the future role of NATO, the Middle East and the recent tension between Pakistan and India.

High security

Sergie Ivanov, Russia's defence minister who also addressed the conference on Sunday, accused his allies of "double standards" in its failure to condemn Moscow's Chechen enemies as "terrorists" while vigorously pursuing Osama bin Laden.

Ivanov warned that disagreement over what, exactly, constitutes a terrorist could undermine the international coalition.

"What is our greatest concern today is the existence till the present time of double political standards with regard to separatism, religious extremism and fanaticism," Ivanov said.

"If those who blow up apartment houses in Moscow or Buinaksk in Dagestan are declared freedom fighters while in other countries such persons are referred to as terrorists, one cannot even think of forging a united anti-terrorist front."

He added: "Any delay on the part of the world community in taking preventive measures against terror may result in even more horrible consequences.

"It is easier to prevent a disease than to cure it."

On Saturday, U.S. Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told the security conference on that NATO needed a revamp to face the new challenges thrown up by the September 11 hijacked airliner attacks on America.

Wolfowitz said that "our old assumptions, our old plans and our old capabilities" that had defined NATO prior to the September 11 attacks on the U.S. were now out of date.

He called on NATO leaders to launch "a military transformation agenda" focused on developing the alliance's "capacities in counterterrorism."

"We are in a new era, we are facing new risks, and we must have new capabilities," Wolfowitz said. "As an alliance, we have never been stronger."

Former U.S. Secretary of Defence William Cohen told delegates that the further behind Europe slipped in military capability, the less compelled the United States would be to call on its NATO allies.

The conference is being held under strict security, with police and water cannon trucks barring streets several blocks away from the venue after more than 4,000 anti-war protesters tried to gather in a central square despite a ban by the city on demonstrations.

They were driven back by a slowly advancing line of police, and when about 800 tried to return later 13 people were arrested and 145 detained.


• Europe urged to end U.S. reliance
February 2, 2002
• Terror tops defence agenda
February 1, 2002
• NATO eyes Bosnia cuts
January 16, 2002
• Rumsfeld warns NATO of new threats
December 19, 2001

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