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Condoleezza Rice With NATO Sec. Gen.

Remarks With His Excellency Jakob "Jaap" de Hoop Scheffer, Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Before Their Meeting

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
March 20, 2006

(11:00 a.m. EST)


SECRETARY RICE: Good morning. I'm delighted to welcome the Secretary General of NATO to the State Department. He's just had a very good meeting with the President and let me add my welcome and my appreciation for your leadership, Jaap, in leading this great institution. There's no more important institution to the United States. NATO has been a force for democracy and continues to be a force for democracy.

We will continue the discussions about the NATO role in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has been so effective and so helpful to helping those young democracies progress. We will continue our discussions about how NATO can strengthen the current AU mission but also looking forward to an enhanced mission should there be an AU request and working with the United Nations should there be a blue-hatted mission for Sudan, something that we certainly support. But I think NATO can play a very important role in enhancing the capabilities of AU forces and so we look forward to those discussions.

Welcome.

SECRETARY GENERAL DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary. Thank you. Thank you, Condi. Let me echo what the Secretary just said, that be it in Iraq in the training mission, be it in Kosovo, be it in the other operations and missions of NATO, NATO will stay the course, NATO will join the other allies in the fight against terrorism.

And on Darfur, I can echo what Secretary Rice just said. It is, of course, the AU and the UN having to take the decisions, but I am quite sure, and I'll take the lead in that as Secretary General, I'm quite sure that when that question comes that the NATO allies will stand ready to support that mission in Darfur. I entirely share the President's and the Secretary's indignation on what's happening there, of course. And as NATO is playing a role now in assisting the African Union, I am quite sure that if the African Union and the United Nations take those decisions, the NATO allies would stand ready to continue doing what we are doing and in the enabling sphere to support that mission.

Thank you very much.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY GENERAL DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Thank you. 2006/279

ENDS


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