18 May 2010

NATO working on strategic concept for the future

1:07 pm on 18 May 2010

The future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's is on the agenda at its headquarters in Brussels.

A new strategic concept is to be adopted by a NATO summit in November.

A panel led by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has made recommendations on how the alliance should adapt to a range of possible challenges.

They include the future of Afghanistan, relations with Russia and missile defence.

The BBC reports the Afghan war has placed a huge strain on the alliance and fuelled tensions on whether its future focus should be on distant missions or closer to home

The panel's report underlines the alliance's commitment to Afghanistan, and said it will need to remain able to guard against threats around the world.

Ms Albright said: "NATO must be versatile and efficient enough to operate far from home."

But Ms Albright and Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Monday that NATO must also better inform the public in Europe and North America how they are getting value from the organisation.

Ms Albright said the organisation also faces a variety of "new threats" including terrorism, cyber-crime, and maritime piracy.

The alliance also faces internal differences over its relationship with Russia.

While some countries are keen to improve relations with Moscow, the BBC reports some members from central and eastern Europe have deep-seated suspicions about Russia's plans.

The panel's report calls for efforts to engage Russia in any plans to deploy missile defence systems in Europe.

Moscow's opposition to a US missile umbrella in Europe has been a source of tension between the countries in recent years.

The report said: "Missile defence is most effective when it is a joint enterprise, and co-operation... between the alliance and its partners - especially Russia - is highly desirable."