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Defense Chiefs Push Anti-Terrorism Role for NATO

June 07, 2002|Associated Press

BRUSSELS — European allies voiced support Thursday for plans to give the North Atlantic Treaty Organization more flexible rapid-reaction forces to project power to regions harboring terrorists.

The alliance's defense ministers also said it was urgent to move against the possibility of extremists obtaining weapons of mass destruction.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the U.S. and its allies must not wait for "absolute proof" of an impending terrorist attack before acting to stop it.

He also said the "real situation" with terrorists and their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is "worse than what [the] facts show."

French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said new risks from terrorism mean that change in the alliance is a necessity.

"Recent conflicts showed that our forces need to be more flexible, more mobile, and we have to make them less vulnerable to chemical or biological attacks," she said.

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