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11 August 2003

NATO Takes Command of Security Force in Kabul

Aug. 11 speech by NATO Deputy Secretary General Rizzo

In a ceremony in Kabul August 11, NATO took on for the first time an operational commitment outside Europe, assuming command of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF).

The name and mission of the ISAF will not change, NATO Deputy Secretary General Alessandro Minuto Rizzo said during the ceremony, which was attended by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

"What will change, as of today," Rizzo said, "is the level of commitment and capability NATO provides. ... From now on, NATO will provide a continuing headquarters, and force commander, strategic co-ordination, command and control, and political direction. And it will do so as long as necessary and required."

German Lieutenant General Gotz Gliemeroth is the new commander of the ISAF, which has been under the joint command of Germany and the Netherlands for the past six months.

NATO's new Web site on the ISAF can be found at: HYPERLINK "http://www.afnorth.nato.int/ISAF/"

Also speaking at the August 11 ceremony were Dr. Peter Struck, Germany's Defense Minister; and Lieutenant General P.J.M. Godderij, The Netherlands' Deputy Chief of Defense.

Following is the text of Rizzo's remarks:

(begin text)

NATO Speeches
11-Aug-2003

Kabul

SPEECH BY THE DEPUTY SECRETARY GENERAL, ALESSANDRO MINUTO RIZZO AT THE ISAF ASSUMPTION OF COMMAND CEREMONY

President Karzai, Excellencies, Generals, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the past months, the world's attention has been focused on crises and conflicts, some not far from here. But our ceremony today demonstrates that the international community remains committed to Afghanistan, to its people, and to its future. As of today, NATO will assume the strategic command, control and coordination of ISAF. The Alliance is taking on this mission for one simple reason: to ensure that ISAF has the support and the capability it needs to help Afghanistan achieve the peace and security this country deserves.

NATO nations have already played a key role in ISAF until now. They have provided over 90 per cent of the troops in ISAF, and the Alliance itself has provided support to the German-Dutch led ISAF III. So a greater role for NATO simply makes sense.

ISAF's name and mission will not change. The operation will continue to operate according to current and future UN resolutions. And under NATO's leadership, we will continue to welcome the very important contributions to ISAF from non-NATO countries as well. But what will change, as of today, is the level of commitment and capability NATO provides.

Until now, the international community has had to search every six months for new nations to lead the mission. That search is over. From now on, NATO will provide a continuing headquarters, and force commander, strategic co-ordination, command and control, and political direction. And it will do so as long as necessary and required.

NATO has long experience in leading and sustaining peace-support operations, and that experience will be brought to bear here in Afghanistan, in support of ISAF and the Afghan National Authority. We have a strong record of successfully ensuring peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo, in full respect of the cultural and political situations in these areas. We look forward to working with you to create a record to be proud of here in Kabul.

This new mission is a reflection of NATO's ongoing transformation, and resolve, to meet the security challenges of the 21st century. But most of all, NATO's increased involvement demonstrates our nations' continuing, long-term commitment to stability and security for the Afghan people.

So to the people of Afghanistan, I say to you that we are here today to forge a strong partnership. A partnership, along with others in the international community, to assist you in achieving your own dreams and aspirations for peace and security, unity and freedom and human dignity and liberty. All principles we share with you. All principles upon which NATO was founded.

Earlier this year, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said that the people of Afghanistan, battered yet resilient, are looking to us for assistance. NATO's new role is proof that the international community will stay the course. And it is another important step in the creation of a stable and prospering future for this country. That, more than anything, is the significance, and the importance of today's ceremony.

Let us join our forces - NATO, the international community and Afghans alike - to build an Afghanistan safe and stable, free and respectful of human dignity.

Thank you.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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