Wednesday, August 4, 1999 Published at 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK
Robertson crowned Nato boss
Russians in Kosovo: A pressing concern for new Nato chief
UK Defence Secretary George Robertson has been confirmed as Nato's new secretary-general after a meeting of the 19 alliance members.
"We've made it absolutely clear that the door is not closed," he told a UK Ministry of Defence news conference.
Mr Robertson said: "It's a daunting prospect to be asked to follow in the footsteps of so able a predecessor as Javier Solana.
"It's a great honour but also a formidable challenge to take on the leadership of the North Atlantic alliance in its 50th anniversary year.
"In Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s, Nato showed it was as needed as it had been in the four decades before."
He said: "The European countries spend about two-thirds of what the United States of America spends on defence but we do not have anything like two-thirds of the capability."
Nato's members met in Brussels on Wednesday to decide on a new boss for the alliance and unanimously agreed on Mr Robertson.
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair described himself as "delighted" after Nato confirmed its pick for the top job.
Until recently a relatively unknown British politician, Mr Robertson will now lead the world's most powerful military alliance.
He had the backing of the United States - the biggest and most influential Nato member - as well as Germany and France.
Mr Robertson emerged from the Kosovo conflict with increased international standing after his forthright warnings to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
US State Department spokesman James Rubin said: "The United States is pleased that he has been chosen.
"He is an extremely able minister who has served his government well, not only during the Kosovo conflict but also in the crucial debates on Nato's future that preceded the Washington summit."
But Mr Robertson is known to have been President Bill Clinton's second choice, after German Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping, who declined the job.
Mr Robertson's appointment to Nato will mean a reshuffle within Mr Blair's Cabinet - a week after the prime minister unveiled changes to his government.
Mr Robertson has refused to be drawn on who would replace him as defence secretary, but Scottish Secretary Dr John Reid, a former defence minister, is a favourite.
Dr Reid's could in turn be replaced by his deputy, Brian Wilson, at the Scotland Office.