Remarks by President Obama and NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen After Bilateral Meeting, 5/31/13

“In addition to talking about Afghanistan, we also discussed the importance of continuing to improve NATO defense capabilities in a new world with new threats. And Anders has taken the lead talking with all the NATO members about how we start building up greater and greater capacity and integration that requires burden-sharing on the part of all NATO members. It means that, even during times of austerity, that we work smarter together to ensure that we can meet and are prepared for any threats that may arise, whether it is improving our joint surveillance capabilities or addressing new threats like cybersecurity.

And because of Anders’s leadership, I think we’ve made real progress on this front. One of the goals of a 2014 NATO summit would be to lock in some of the progress that’s already been made into a set of commitments that are clearly understood by all the NATO members, and I very much appreciate the work that Anders has done on that front.

We had a chance to talk about Libya, where we obviously had a very successful NATO operation to liberate Libya from a decades-long dictatorship. We now have a Libyan government that is in a transition process. And part of where we think we can be helpful is to ensure that a democratically elected Libyan government has the capacity to control its borders to ensure that it does not become a safe haven for terrorism. And I think NATO has an important role to play on that front, and I know that Secretary Rasmussen recently met with the Prime Minister of Libya and had discussions about how we could provide assistance.

We are very supportive of those efforts because we think it’s critical that we have strong partners in places like North Africa that are able to meet the security needs of their own people but are also working with the international community to meet the security needs of all of us.

And finally, I congratulated Anders on the excellent work that was done to achieve an agreement with respect to the Kosovo situation that has the potential to be historic and indicates the degree to which NATO forces in that region continue to play a very important role in underwriting the security of people who historically, obviously, have been racked by all sorts of conflict and violence. And we’re very supportive of those efforts.”

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