Today, Secretary Clinton delivered remarks to the press at the NATO Informal Foreign Ministerial in Tallinn, Estonia. The Secretary said:
"This has been a productive conference and I am pleased that NATO and all of the participants persevere in the face of some unusual logistical challenges. And I once again want to thank the government and people of Estonia for being such gracious hosts. I have enjoyed the opportunity to meet with the foreign minister. I'm looking forward, after this, to be able to pay a courtesy call on both the president and the prime minister. And the only regret I have is that I had to spend all my time in meetings instead of enjoying Tallinn once again.
"During this ministerial, both the NATO ministerial and the NATO ISAF meeting, we covered a wide range of issues, from our refocused mission in Afghanistan to the future of the alliance. And I thought the discussions were open, candid, and constructive. On Afghanistan, which is our alliance's top operational priority, we were able to review our progress with both NATO allies and our other partners in ISAF. And much of our discussion focused on the importance of training and strengthening the Afghan national security forces."
The Secretary continued, "We had the opportunity also to discuss the next steps on a new strategic concept, which will be the first in NATO's efforts in over a decade. Secretary General Rasmussen explained the process that we'll be going through in the lead-up to Lisbon. He will receive the Group of Experts final report soon. That group was chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. And then he will present a new strategic concept in advance of the Lisbon summit in November.
"The Group of Experts did an outstanding job, and certainly, my friend and predecessor Madeleine Albright showed great leadership and vision. We now have an opportunity to build on their work and construct a more effective, efficient, and flexible NATO better prepared and ready to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the 21st century.
"As part of this strategic concept review, we began a discussion last evening about NATO's nuclear posture. As you know, the United States is taking concrete steps to make good on President Obama's pledge to make America and the world safer by reducing the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation and terrorism. The President has made clear, however, that as long as nuclear weapons exist, we, the United States, will maintain a safe, secure, and effective arsenal to deter any adversary. And we will continue to guarantee the security of our NATO allies. That's a commitment enshrined in NATO's Article 5 and a bedrock principle of American foreign policy.
"We also discussed the way forward in NATO's relations with Russia. Following the restart of the NATO-Russia Council last December and the recent signing of the new START treaty, there is considerable momentum within the alliance for moving ahead with Russia on areas of common concern and shared responsibility. We are exploring how best to work within the NATO-Russia Council itself and we are committed to obtaining greater transparency and practical cooperation on issues like missile defense and counternarcotics. We hope to continue these efforts not only through the NATO-Russia Council, but also through OSCE and a renewed engagement on conventional arms control.
"Now, as we look to NATO's future, partnerships with nations and institutions outside our alliance will be crucial. We already see the benefits of partnership in exercises, consultations, and work on the ground in Afghanistan, Kosovo, and elsewhere. The United States continues to support NATO enlargement and the efforts of nations that aspire to meet the standards for membership. The experience and contributions of Estonia, for example, a relatively new member, demonstrates that NATO's open door strengthens our alliance and advances our shared goals.
"And on that topic, I would like to say a few words about Bosnia. NATO has agreed to grant Bosnia's request for a membership action plan, or MAP. We took this step with the expectation it will serve as a catalyst for important reforms that will help strengthen Bosnian institutions and allow it to function more effectively as a state. And we will be working with and looking to Bosnia's leaders to deliver further progress. And we made very clear that we are inviting Bosnia into membership, but they have to take certain steps in order to proceed in the MAP process.
"So on all these fronts, we've made progress and laid the foundation for a successful Lisbon summit in November. And I am very pleased at the great sense of collegiality and collaboration around the table as we meet and discuss these important issues, and again, I thank the Estonian Government and people for welcoming us here."
Read the Secretary's full remarks here.
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