From NATO: The Secretary General met with the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, as well as with other senior members of the US Administration, to discuss NATO priorities in 2011 and how this work will culminate in the next NATO Summit, to be held in the United States in the first half of 2012.
On Afghanistan, the Secretary General expressed his appreciation for the continuing US support for the transition process towards Afghan security lead. "There is a shared sense of commitment," said Rasmussen. "NATO Allies and partners in the ISAF coalition provided nearly 10,000 additional troops over the last year, at the same time that President Obama decided to send an extra 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. Now, together with our Afghan partners, we are on track to launch transition this spring, in order to build on the momentum we are seeing on the ground." The training of Afghan security forces remains the ticket to transition and the Secretary General stressed that the NATO training mission in Afghanistan was a great success. "From now until transition is complete," Rasmussen said, "we will continue to need more trainers."
Discussions also revolved around NATO’s global partnerships and ways to enhance cooperation with influential countries and organisations interested in promoting security and stability around the globe. "Enhancing our partnership engagement is a priority and we agreed that Russia in particular is an important partner to both NATO and the US", said the Secretary General. "In 2011 we want to turn our political agreements with the Russian Federation into more practical cooperation including in Afghanistan and in fighting terrorism, as well as in coordinating our missile defence systems.”
The Secretary General also recognized the tough financial decisions the US and other Allies are facing this year. "Despite all the economic pressures, the US continues to show great leadership in its ability to reduce defence spending, while investing for the future. I have received strong US support for our NATO reform agenda, which must start to deliver efficiencies this year to continue to improve our effectiveness as an Alliance.” (photo: Getty)