- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 23, 2002

New NATO for new war

NATO is preparing itself to fight terrorism on many fronts with new flexibility that will confound critics of the Atlantic alliance, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said yesterday.

"At [the] Prague [summit] we will unveil a major enhancement in the alliance's capacity to contribute to the war against terror," Mr. Robertson told the Brookings Institution.

NATO leaders are preparing for a summit next month in Prague, the Czech capital, where they will consider adding as many seven new members. NATO now has 18 members.

He said the new measures include "concepts of operations" and collective planning. They may not "appear glamorous," but they are essential, he said.

"At Prague NATO will take a significant leap forward in enabling our forces to defend themselves and civilian populations should the need arise," he said.

Mr. Robertson also appealed to the United States to cooperate more with its allies by sharing advanced weapons technology, and he demanded that Europe increase its military effectiveness.

"I am continuing to browbeat all NATO governments on capabilities. In Europe, the message is modernization or marginalization. Here in Washington, the message is: Remove the alibis," he said.

"Europeans have for years complained that they would like to do more, but the United States was unwilling to transfer the necessary technology."

"If the United States wants Europeans to share the responsibilities and risks of dealing with today's threats, it must be prepared to transfer the technology needed to modernize European armed forces."

He predicted that the NATO summit "will silence the siren voices who have repeatedly told us that the trans-Atlantic capabilities gap is too wide to bridge."

Critics of the war against terrorism "forget that we are still in the early stages of the war," he said.

The coalition against terrorism "has enjoyed a year of extraordinary success by driving Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist network from their base in Afghanistan and defeating their brutal Taliban allies, Mr. Robertson added.

"Terror cells across the world have been crushed," he said. "Financial support to terrorists has been cut. Their communications have been disrupted."

"They are not invincible," he said. "They will be defeated in any war where freedom-loving people are united against evil."


Water diplomacy

A top U.S. diplomat met Lebanese President Emile Lahoud yesterday to discuss tensions between Lebanon and Israel, which has threatened war over a Lebanese project that taps a river that feeds Israel's main source of water.

William Burns, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, said the meeting "gave me an opportunity to stress the commitment of the U.S. to a fair and peaceful resolution of the war issue, working closely with the Lebanese government, with Israel, with the United Nations and the European Union."

Despite Israeli warnings, Lebanon last week opened the project to divert water from the Wazzani River to supply villages in southern Lebanon. The Wazzani feeds the Sea of Galilee in Israel.

Mr. Burns told reporters that he and Mr. Lahoud also discussed the disputed border between Lebanon and Israel. He said he stressed the "importance to all parties of maintaining a relative quiet" in southern Lebanon, where anti-Israeli guerrillas are still active.

Mr. Burns said he "reviewed [President Bushs] commitment of trying to achieve a strong new U.N. resolution" that demands that Iraq honor commitments made after the Gulf war cease-fire to abandon weapons of mass destruction.

He told Mr. Lahoud that Mr. Bush sees war as a "last resort."


Warning to Bosnia

The U.S. ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina warned political parties yesterday to reject hard-line nationalists and form a new government of moderate leaders.

"I have to say that the United States will support and help only governments formed from moderate parties," Ambassador Clifford Bond told the Bosnian daily newspaper, Nezavisne Novine.

Nationalist parties won major gains in the elections Oct. 5, posing a threat to the delicately balanced governments of ethnic Croats, Serbs and Muslims created by the 1995 accord that ended Bosnia's civil war.

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