NATO chief urges greater cooperation with Central Asia
ALMATY: NATO has a crucial role to play in helping Central Asia meet the challenges posed by instability in Afghanistan, NATO Secretary General George Robertson said in Kazakhstan on Thursday.
“The attacks on New York and Washington (in 2001) ... were planned and organised in Central Asia, in Afghanistan. We must therefore have a common front against terrorists,” Robertson said after meeting Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
As NATO prepares to take over leadership of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul — the alliancee’s first deployment outside Europe — Central Asian countries should share in the alliancee’s new approach, Robertson said. “If there is to be security in the new world we must have more military cooperation,” Robertson told reporters.
“That means better trained and more deployable troops. We must abolish the equipment and arms of the Cold War and ... replace them with the new sharper tools which will be required.”
NATO’s leadership of the ISAF, which begins on August 11, means that “Central Asia is now going to be very much part of NATO’s agenda,” Robertson said.
Following concerns about alleged widespread human rights abuses by the United States’ Central Asian ally Uzbekistan, Robertson cautioned that a common front should not come “at the expense of the liberties of free societies which the terrorists would defend. —AFP