Scheffer: NATO in full solidarity with Georgia

The NATO Secretary General Jaap deHoop Scheffer said on Friday that the alliance would be "in full solidarity" with Georgia despite Russian President Dmitry Medvedev accused NATO of provoking the conflict in Georgia last month.

Speaking at a new conference after the informal meeting of NATO defense ministers in London, Scheffer said, "NATO is in full solidarity ... with the Georgian people and with the Georgian government."

"We have an intensive partnership, an intensive dialogue, an intensive high-level political engagement with Georgia," he told reporters.

The secretary general also said that NATO may "step up" its planning and training to defend the alliance's territory.

"We may step up some elements here or there but continuation of what we have done is important," said he.

"planning and training for collective defense is, for NATO ... business as usual." said he.

"I want you to go away with the impression that is, I think, the only correct impression, that NATO has always been prepared for all eventualities and is prepared for all eventualities, and I don't see new eventualities," said he.

Scheffer said the NATO would continue "the transformation of our forces."

"There is no difference between the forces you need in Afghanistan and forces you might need in a scenario ... where you have to defend NATO territory," said he.

The defense ministers from 26-nation bloc were in London for two days informal meeting. It is reported that the primary focus of the meeting will be ongoing transformation of the alliance, but it has been overshadowed by the conflict between Russia and Georgia in August.

[Source: Xinhua, London, 20Sep08]

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