NATO ministers meet to discuss new strategy

17:26, October 14, 2010      

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NATO's Defence Ministers Meeting is held at NATO's headquarters in Brussels, capital of Belgium on Oct. 14, 2010, ahead of a joint Defence and Foreign Ministers Meeting of the NATO member countries.(Xinhua/Wu Wei)

NATO's foreign and defence ministers from 28 members started a joint meeting on Thursday to discuss the alliance's new strategy concept.

The new strategy, which is to set the course for NATO in the next decade, is scheduled to be adopted and unveiled at the upcoming NATO's summit in Lisbon, Portugal, Nov. 19 to 20.

In his opening remarks, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that "starting today, and over the course of the next few weeks, we will shape and agree the new Strategic Concept."

He stressed that as the strategy would guide the alliance through the next decade, "It is critical that we get it right. NATO's core mission, to protect the 900 million citizens of NATO countries from attack, must never change -- but it must be modern defence, against modern threats."

The new strategy will become the alliance's third one since the Cold War ended. The last two were adopted in 1991 and in 1999 before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States and the following war in Afghanistan.

The missile defence is also a focus at the joint meeting. Fogh Rasmussen said that the time was "ripe" to expand NATO's existing missile defence system, which only covers deployed forces, to protect citizens of all member states.

"The threat is clear. The capability exists. And the costs are manageable. I believe we can and should make missile defence for Europe a NATO capability," he said.

The secretary general said that the alliance's command structure and agencies need to be reformed and member states should pool their resources together to save money.

"Less infrastructure; leaner and more effective headquarters; more deployable forces; coherent cuts in national defense budgets, so we retain what we need as an Alliance. A reform agenda to guide NATO's transformation, through and beyond this period of austerity," he said.

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