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SHAPE NEWS MORNING UPDATE 02 DECEMBER 2002

 

 

 

NATO

         NATO supreme commander urges Iraq to disarm peacefully

BALKANS

         NATO chief encourages Albania, Macedonia (sic)  to strive for alliance membership

AFGHANISTAN

         U.S., Britain plan to expand Afghan security force

OTHER NEWS

         French defense minister calls for arms spending to be exempt from EU budget restrictions

         Drnovsek of centre-left voted Slovenia's president

 

 

NATO

 

         NATO's supreme commander in Europe said on Friday that the Western military alliance hopes Iraq will peacefully surrender any weapons of mass destruction and avert a showdown. "We all hope that the weapons of mass destruction that are in Iraq are removed by peaceful means," Gen. Ralston told reporters after talks with Bulgarian Army Chief of Staff Nikola Kolev. "Everyone in uniform who has seen combat wants it to be the last resort," he said. However, Ralston warned that a military option could prove inevitable and that Bulgaria should do some "prudent military planning." Bulgarian officials have said the country is ready to contribute troops and logistical support to a military operation against Iraq, but have cautioned that parliament would make a final decision on the issue.(AP 291149 Nov 02 GMT)

 

BALKANS

 

         NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson urged leaders in Albania and Macedonia (sic)  on Friday to push for deeper reforms to boost their chances to join the military alliance.  Robertson urged leaders in both countries to persevere. "The doors to NATO memberships remain open," he said after landing in Skopje. "Huge progress has been made here but more still needs to be done," Robertson said. In Skopje, Robertson met with President Boris Trajkovski and new Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski. Trajkovski said Robertson's visit "confirmed NATO's consistent policy toward Macedonia (sic)  which enables us to have faith that we shall be seriously considered for membership at the very next opportunity." Before departing, Robertson summed up his sentiments in a message to the Macedonian (sic)  people: "NATO still loves Macedonia, but it is a tough love." In Tirana, Robertson met briefly with President Alfred Moisiu, Prime Minister Fatos Nano and Defense Minister Pandeli Majko to discuss the outcome of the summit in Prague. "Although there must be inevitable disappointment after Prague, I still believe that Albania can look forward with optimism to the future as part of integrated European structures," he said, adding that Albania's eventual membership would hinge on further reforms to bring Europe's poorest country closer to NATO's standards.(AP291658 Nov 02 GMT)

 

AFGHANISTAN

 

         The United States and Britain plan to extend an international security umbrella in Afghanistan beyond the capital Kabul from the end of next month, British government sources said on Friday.  They said under the plan, which has yet to win the approval  Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, American troops could deploy in the city of Gardez next month as part of efforts to bring lasting, nationwide stability to Afghanistan.  Britain was ready in principle to take responsibility for one of four or five other cities which would be covered under the plan, one official said. "The idea is for a relatively small team of 40 to 60 reconstruction and security specialists to deploy, protected by soldiers," the official said. The commanding general of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Lieutenant General Dan McNeill, supported the plan, the sources said, but political leaders in Washington had yet to give formal approval.(Reuters 1710 291102 Dec 02 GMT)

 

OTHER NEWS

 

         Defense spending should be exempted from EU rules limiting budget deficits to speed up the creation of a modern, continent-wide security force, France's defense minister said in remarks released Saturday. "Security must have priority over budget rules in the current world situation," Michele Alliot-Marie said in an interview with the news magazine Der Spiegel. "Europe has no weight in foreign policy without the corresponding military potential," Alliot-Marie was quoted as saying in the interview, which was released ahead of its publication on Monday.(AP301853 Nov 02 GMT)

 

         Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek, head of the centre-left Liberal Democrats, has been elected president of Slovenia, preliminary results showed on Sunday. With 96.1 percent of the votes counted, Drnovsek polled 56.3 percent of votes in the second election round against his only rival, opposition coalition candidate Barbara Brezigar.  Both candidates supported Slovenia's membership of the EU and NATO, expected in 2004.  Drnovsek will replace Milan Kucan, 61, a former communist who held office as an independent and has been head of state of the former Yugoslav republic for 12 years.(Reuters 2047 011202 Dec 02 GMT)

 

 

 

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