NATO Hoping to Press Reset And START With Russia
U.S. President Barack Obama has arrived in Lisbon, for a two-day summit meeting with partners in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and leaders of the European Union. The NATO leaders will concentrate Friday on updating the alliance's capabilities and improving its relationship with Russia.
When NATO's main decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council, meets late Friday, the main item of business will be to adopt a new strategic concept, laying out the alliance's role in the 21st century.
The U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, said early this week the 28-member alliance will update its existing strategic concept, from 1999, to deal with 21st-century threats.
"Including beefing up our cyber-defenses and embracing the deployment of missile defenses to protect European territory and populations against the growing threat of ballistic missiles," said Daalder.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will also attend, in a sign of warming ties. The NATO leaders says they want to reset relations with Russia. The last North Atlantic Council meeting, in 2008, was marked by anger over Russia's conflict with Georgia.
As President Obama meets with his fellow leaders, he faces tough odds against getting the U.S. Senate to ratify the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia any time soon.
The president said Thursday passing a new START before the end of the year is a national security imperative.
"The New START treaty responsibly reduces the number of nuclear weapons and launchers that the United States and Russia deploy, while fully maintaining America's nuclear deterrent," said Mr. Obama.
Some opposition Republican senators refuse to vote for the treaty unless it is accompanied by a modernization of the U.S. nuclear program. Mr. Obama has given Republicans reassurance about the continued strength of the U.S. Nuclear deterrent, and has asked Vice President Joe Biden and Republicans who support the treaty to campaign for it night and day.
Russia will also be in the forefront of the NATO summit on Saturday, when the NATO-Russia Council meets, and President Obama holds one-on-one meetings with Mr. Medvedev and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili.
Article by Kent Klein, VOA News