The US and Europe agreed in Munich Saturday on a need to renew their transatlantic security vows to confront Islamic extremism, but said they did not yet know how to adapt their alliance to new dangers.
Security's extremely tight for the international conference in Munich
In addresses to the annual Munich security conference, both German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was still a crucial institution at the core of the transatlantic security relationship.
"However, it is no longer the primary venue where transatlantic partners discuss and coordinate strategies," Schröder, who did not attend the conference due to illness, said in a speech read by his Defense Minister Peter Struck to top-level defense and security experts from around the world.
The German leader said there had been "strains, mistrust and even tensions" between the United States and the European Union in recent years and while a US troop presence in Europe was still of "political significance," it was no longer the security priority that it was during the Cold War.
Schröder calls for review
Schröder at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 28
The security dialogue between the United States and the European Union "in its current form does justice neither to the Union's growing importance nor to the new demands on transatlantic cooperation," Schröder said, but "no one can produce ready answers" on how to change it.
The German leader called for creation by the governments of the European Union and the United States of a high-ranking panel of independent figures to propose ways of revitalizing their security ties and adapting them to post-Cold War challenges.
Rumsfeld: "Most impressive alliance"
Rumsfeld was more enthusiastic in his endorsement of NATO as an historic security institution with valuable past achievements and numerous prospects for future development, but also said that as a large, slow-moving institution it was sometimes of limited use in facing fast-moving threats.
"NATO is the most impressive military alliance in the history of mankind, but it is what it is," Rumsfeld said. "There are some times when things have to happen fairly rapidly."
Donald Rumsfeld at the conference in Munich
The NATO alliance, Rumsfeld said, "has navigated through some choppy seas over the years" and had always found a way to reconcile even sharp differences. That should happen again in order to maximize cooperation in fighting new threats such as Islamic extremism and weapons proliferation.
"Today, we share a common enemy," Rumsfeld said. "Radical Islamists do not seek an armistice with the civilized world. They will not negotiate a separate peace. Rather they seek to impose the totalitarian rule George Orwell described as 'a boot stomping on a human face - forever.'
"It will take the cooperation of many nations to stop the proliferation of dangerous weapons. Proliferation is a global concern, and it requires a global effort."
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