NATO Backs U.S. Aid Request
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BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ NATO approved the United States’ request for specific military contributions in the campaign against terrorism on Thursday, the alliance’s secretary-general said.
The decision backs up earlier promises with military hardware and intelligence, after Washington’s 18 NATO allies said they were convinced by U.S. evidence of Osama bin Laden’s involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
``Today’s decision clearly demonstrates the allies’ resolve to combat terrorism,″ Secretary-General Lord Robertson said. He added the commitments were ``clearly not time-limited.″
Robertson said the decision means the allies will enhance intelligence cooperation relating to terrorist threats, allow for blanket overflights during the campaign, provide access to airfields and deploy standing naval forces and AWACS early-warning radar aircraft.
He said the requests were made ``in a broad sense because the United States has not decided how it will respond.″
Diplomatic sources at alliance headquarters have said the aid requested was essentially a compilation of the kinds of support the United States already has obtained from member states on a bilateral basis.
France, for example, has agreed to American requests to open its airspace and has offered naval and logistics support in the Indian Ocean.
Germany said the U.S. request included cooperation on intelligence, protection of U.S. installations in NATO countries, unlimited overflight rights and air space surveillance. The chancellor said he told the German representative to NATO to cooperate in helping the United States with its needs.
On Tuesday, the allies formally invoked NATO’s Article 5, which says an attack against one member is an attack against all.
The decision on the request for assistance from the United States was taken by the so-called silent procedure, by which the member states agree if they do not raise objections by a certain deadline.