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1950: US and Europe agree Nato aims
Almost exactly a year after signing the North Atlantic Treaty, 12 nations have agreed a permanent organisation for the defence of the United States and Europe.

The final meeting of the fourth session of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, or Nato as it has become known, was held in front of cameras at Lancaster House in London.

The 12 foreign ministers sat around a horseshoe table, with the United States Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, at the centre. A large audience of newspaper and newsreel correspondents, cameramen and photographers broadcast their speeches around the world.

This business of building for peace is a very grim business, and it has to be worked for day in and day out.
UK Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin
During negotiations over the past few days, the ministers have reached agreement over a communiqué outlining the aims of the Organisation, and setting out a six-point plan for strengthening ties between their countries.

Key among these was the establishment of a council of deputies, with a permanent chairman and a full-time staff, to put the objectives of the Treaty into action.

Opening the meeting, Mr Acheson thanked all his colleagues for their "tireless efforts" and said that "genuine progress" had been made.

"Throughout its deliberations, the council has recognised that only through coordinated plans and effort could its great objectives be achieved," he said.

He then went on to read the communiqué, which spoke of the principles behind Nato and outlined the objectives the organisation is working towards.

It stressed the importance of seeking a diplomatic solution before military force is used, but where some nations are not willing to cooperate, it said, "the maintenance of peace and the defence of freedom require the organisation of adequate military defence."

The communiqué also includes directives on defence, finance and economics, and establishes a North Atlantic planning board for shipping.

The British Foreign Minister, Ernest Bevin, called the agreement one of "historic significance".

"I'm afraid we cannot arrive at sensational decisions," he told the meeting. "This business of building for peace is a very grim business, and it has to be worked for day in and day out.

"We must never give up faith in its ultimate trials."

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Ernest Bevin
British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin: agreement of "historic significance"

In Context
The 12 nations who signed the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949 were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the United States.

Later in 1950, US general and future president Dwight D Eisenhower was appointed Nato's first supreme commander.

Nato soon ran into controversy when West Germany was included in the Treaty in 1955. The Soviet Union saw it as a direct threat, and in the same year created a counter-alliance called the Warsaw Pact.

When the Cold War ended, the Warsaw Pact was dissolved in 1991.

No longer directed at the perceived threat of Soviet aggression, Nato formed closer ties with Eastern Europe and began a major re-evaluation of its role.

The Organisation's first aggressive action took place in 1995, in a campaign of airstrikes launched against Bosnian Serb positions in the former Yugoslavia.

It was followed in 1999 by an 11-week campaign of airstrikes over Kosovo which it undertook without United Nations approval.

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