REMARKS BY VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN AT PRESS CONFERENCE WITH NATO SECRETARY GENERAL JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER
NATO Headquarters — Brussels, Belgium
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Thank you very much, Secretary General. I want to thank all the members for the warm welcome they’ve afforded me. And thank you for your leadership of the Alliance.
Less than a month from today, NATO is going to meet to celebrate the 60th anniversary of NATO. There’s a great deal to celebrate, but there’s also a great deal left to do. The Alliance has been the cornerstone of our security since the end of World War II. And to state the obvious, it has anchored the United States in Europe. And I believe it’s been helpful in forging a Europe whole and free. There’s much to celebrate, as I said, but there’s also much to do.
Our community of democratic nations faces extraordinary challenges: a worldwide economic crisis, the likes of which we haven’t seen; the spread of mass destruction weapons and dangerous diseases; the growing gap between the rich and the poor; ethnic animosities and failed states; a rapidly warming planet and uncertain supplies of water, energy, and food; and the challenge to freedom and security from radical fundamentalism. And nowhere is that challenge more acute than in Afghanistan.
I know the people of Europe, like the people of my country, are tired of war, and they are tired of this war. But many of our citizens both here in Europe and at home question why we need to send troops and treasure so far from our homes. But we know, we know that it was from the space that joins Afghanistan and Pakistan that the attacks of 9/11 occurred. We know that it was from the very same area that extremists planned virtually every major terrorist attack on Europe since 9/11, and the attack on Mumbai. We know that it was from this same area that al Qaeda and its extremist allies are regenerating and conceiving new atrocities to visit upon us.
As leaders entrusted with the security of our citizens, none of us — none of us — none of us can deny that the new threats of the 21st century must be dealt with. None of us can escape the responsibility to meet these threats.
And that’s why President Obama ordered a full-scale strategic review of our policy with regard to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He insisted that we consult with our allies and partners so that we produce a truly common vision of how to proceed. And that’s what I had the privilege to do today at the North Atlantic Council.
I heard from our allies. I heard the concerns and they listed their priorities. And I pledged to them, as I pledge to all Europeans now, that we will build their ideas into our review, which we expect to present to President Obama before the end of this month, in preparation of the NATO summit in April.
I also shared with my colleagues some of the factors that are shaping our