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NATO DMs discuss Afghanistan, missile defence


Brussels : NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen opened an informal meeting of NATO Defence Ministers in Bratislava, Slovakia, Friday morning .

“We are using our meetings here in Bratislava to review our presence in Afghanistan and the issue of missile defence,” he said in opening remarks. Rasmussen said the meeting of defence ministers from the 28-member Alliance will discuss how to take the ISAF mission in Afghanistan forward. “And while it is too soon to get final answers, I hope we will get a clear, shared view on three key questions: First: Do we believe that the approach set out by (NATO’s top commander in Afghanistan) General McChrystal in his assessment is generally the right one? Second: Do we believe that we need to accelerate the process of transition to Afghan lead? And third: How do we best pursue our priorities?” he asked.

Over lunch today they will continue discussion on Afghanistan in an expanded format with non-NATO ISAF partners, along with Afghan Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, and United Nations Special Representative Kai Eide. “We will also discuss missile defence. Secretary Gates and his colleagues will address the new US approach. Today’s discussions will kick off a discussion which I hope will lead to a decision, at our next NATO Summit in Lisbon, to bring European missile defence into the Alliance,” said Rasmussen .

The NATO chief’s speech was distributed to the press here in Brussels.