Secretary Kerry Attends NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting in Brussels

Posted by David Siefkin
April 23, 2013
Foreign Ministers From NATO Countries Meet in Brussels on April 23, 2013

This morning, Secretary of State John Kerry arrived at NATO to take his seat for the first time at the North Atlantic Council, the governing body of NATO, as ministers of the 28 Allies converged to discuss some of the world's most sensitive questions. Secretary Kerry strode past the cameras and photographers, as journalists pleaded with him in French to make a comment. "Apres, après," Kerry said, "afterwards."

The atmosphere inside the meeting room was somber, as developments in Syria and Korea were on the morning agenda. Just before the meeting began, NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen told the journalists outside, "We can see that the situation in Syria is getting worse. We cannot ignore the risks of a regional spill-over with possible implications for Allied security. NATO has come to the support of Turkey with the rapid deployment of Patriot missiles, but we must continue to remain vigilant." The NATO meeting was a unique opportunity for the Foreign Ministers of Europe and North America to share information and ideas on the crisis in Syria.

The second meeting of the day was the NATO-Russia Council, attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The Council was briefed on the recent series of meetings between high-level U.S. and Russian diplomats in Moscow, and possibilities for an intensified NATO-Russia dialogue that could follow from that. Afterwards, Secretary Kerry took the opportunity to meet individually with Minister Lavrov, with whom he has already met several times in recent weeks, to continue the search for common ground.

Secretary Kerry's schedule inside the NATO HQ building was, as always, choreographed to use every minute. Between other meetings he sat down with the Greek Foreign Minister, and signed an agreement on the control of nuclear materials with the foreign minister of Lithuania.

Late in the afternoon, Secretary Kerry gave his first press conference in NATO's Luns Theater. He began by calling Europe "America's partner of first resort," and then talked about how NATO would transform its mission in Afghanistan from combat to training by the end of 2014. "Afghanistan will not again, ever, become a haven for terrorists," Kerry declared.

Turning to the question of Syria, Kerry said that there was no specific role for NATO in Syria right now, but that all the Allies agreed that "the mass murder taking place outside of Damascus was unacceptable," and there had to be a political solution. "The U.S. will continue supporting the opposition coalition," he said, with the goal of achieving "a non-sectarian democracy that respects all human rights." After answering questions, the Secretary apologetically excused himself and moved to the next meeting with the NATO Allies and partners working together in Afghanistan.

In his first day inside the NATO headquarters, the Secretary showed that he is very much at home in the Alliance. Secretary Kerry's day won't end until late this evening, and tomorrow his schedule is booked with meetings with Afghan President Karzai and the leaders of Pakistan. Stay tuned to DipNote and @USNATO and @USAmbNATO on Twitter for more from his visit.

Comments

Comments

Alivia
|
India
April 24, 2013

Alivia in India writes:

Thank you so much to provide the great information. Thank you so much.

Michael G.
|
United States
April 24, 2013

Michael G. in the U.S.A. writes:

Kerry's rhetoric: All hat, no cattle.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
April 29, 2013

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Well if NATO "has no specific role in Syria right now", let me suggest one to Sec. Kerry that needs to be implemented right now.

Simply the specific role of eliminating Bashar al Assad's capacity to make war on his people, with an "ALL IN" attitude to prevent any further, ongoing genocide.

Using every means of every member to do so.

Oh, and you'all might as well invite Russia to either physicly help in this process as full partners in the prevention of genocide, or to quit complaining every time the US and partners feel the need to stop dictators tyrants and terrorists in their tracks, and level the playing field for people to determine their own futures.

At least if Russia is invited to be part of a "coalition of the willing" then it will be a lot harder for them to cry "foul!" from the sidelines when NATO finally gets the gumption and the political nerve to do the dirty work neccessary to safeguard humanity.

The comes a time when the policy of having a people generally determine the fate of their leadership for themselves, is not in keeping with the interests of the rest of humanity.
I don't believe President Obama would have said it is time for Assad to go, without having this understanding before making the statement.

Let alone now that circumstances involving chemical weapons use pose a "game changer" as an imminent threat to everyone in the region.

EJ

Ashim C.
|
India
April 30, 2013

Ashim C. in India writes:

Political Executive in any state does not rule using brute force of the state. If lakhs of Syrians are prepared to stand up against President Assad and be prepared to die, leave their country as refugees in neighbouring countries, it has to be assumed that dissension against President Assad is genuine and sufficiently wide spread. This having been said, one has recognize that as executive of the Syria he has indeed the responsibility to maintain law and order and integrity of the country. The way events have unfolded in Syria suggest that President Assad has escalated use of force gradually after his forces tasted the fire power of the opposition. Fears of President Assad possessing & using chemical weapons were heard only a couple of months ago and the fear remains shrouded in doubt still. If there is an iota of truth in it, pure humane considerations demand that the matter is thoroughly investigated and conclusively established before NATO acts. International community - especially NATO, Russia and other permanent members of of UNSC must undertake this exercise jointly. If this requires limited action by international military intervention that should be welcome. No country and it's citizens can be left abandoned to suffer atrocities from the Political Executive of any country.

It is good to see US exercising much restraint. What Mr. Kerry has said implies that option for action against President Assad is open and that would be exercised at an appropriate time, when fear of use of chemical weapons stands fully verified. As for Russia & China, they have been playing a limited role in regional crises every where be it - North Korea or Iran. They should be as proactive as NATO is and join efforts in assessing atrocities in Syria and determine future course of preventive and curative action and keep that proportionate to the situation. It is not job US alone to ensure peace and progress. But if US is left alone to deal with problems anywhere and commits mistakes in judgement as indeed it did - for example in Iraq, where apparent reason for action against Saddam was possession of WMD, which were never found. US spirit and courage to be with people and countries is admirable. US is indeed deterrent to many untoward happenings though, one's sense is, Americans generally no longer approve of US direct intervention with it's human resources particularly. Imagine what Asia Pacific and South East Asia would be like if China is allowed a free hand.

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