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Wednesday, 14 February, 2001, 10:17 GMT
Bush calls for Nato unity
President Bush addresses Norfolk naval college
Defence issues are central for the Bush administration
By Richard Lister in Washington

President George W Bush has said Nato must remain unified despite challenges to the alliance such as US plans for a national missile defence system.

Speaking at the naval port of Norfolk in Virginia before an audience including 18 Nato envoys, Mr Bush said the US and its allies must create a new defence structure to meet the needs of a new era.


Our challenges have changed...but the purpose of Nato remains permanent

President Bush

Strengthening America's defences was a major campaign theme for Mr Bush - as president, he has vowed to push forward with a national missile defence shield to counter threats from what Washington has called rogue states.

KFOR troops in the Balkans
Nato has and will keep Europe's peace, according to Mr Bush

But European Nato members remain sceptical about the plans, which critics say could trigger a new arms race.

Separate threats

Mr Bush said the cold war had been replaced by many separate threats, which must be confronted with what he described as a new defence architecture.

He spoke of the need for systems to protect satellites, and of refining the ability to target threats at land and sea with pinpoint accuracy using such things as unmanned aircraft.

But in particular he stressed the need to defend against missile strikes.

Acknowledging the rifts within Nato over his plans, the president urged the alliance to remain united, promising that Washington would consult closely with its allies.

As we have seen in the Balkans, together, united [Nato] can deter the designs of aggression and spare the continent from the effects of ethnic hatred

President Bush

We did not prevail together in the cold war, he said, only to go our separate ways.

The issue of NMD is causing more serious rifts with Russia and China and is likely to be the main item on the agenda when the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, meets his Russian counterpart, Igor Ivanov, for the first time next week.

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See also:

09 Feb 01 | Americas
Bush orders major defence review
03 Feb 01 | Americas
US stands by 'Star Wars'
04 Feb 01 | Europe
Russia condemns US 'Star Wars'
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