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NATO will not return to Libya, says Rasmussen.

| (with photo) BRUSSELS, Jan 26 (KUNA) - NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen underlined Thursday that the Alliance will not return to Libya after reports that ex-rebels had taken control of the town of Bani Walid and were forming new military units in the country.

"We operated on the basis of a UN mandate and I want to stress that we terminated our operations in Libya on 31 October last year and our mission has been completed and we have no intention to return to Libya," said Rasmussen in his monthly press conference and New Year's reception for the media held at NATO headquarters this afternoon.

On the Iranian nuclear issue and Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, Rasmussen noted that the Alliance as an institution is not involved in the negotiations.

"Obviously we follow the situation closely and some statements from the Iranian leadership are of course a matter of concern," he said.

The NATO chief urged "the Iranian leadership to live up to its international commitments including stop the enrichment programme and ensure free navigation in the Strait of Hormuz." Rasmussen also launched today the first ever 'Annual Report', which gives a brief overview of NATO's principal achievements and challenges in 2011.

"In 2011, our Alliance faced many tough tests, perhaps more than ever before," the Secretary General said. "And the good news is that we got very good results," he added..

Citing examples, Rasmussen pointed to Afghanistan where he said ISAF forces weakened the insurgency while boosting the number of Afghan security forces to over 300,000. He emphasized that Taliban attacks fell by 9 percent in 2011. Transition was on track to be completed by the end of 2014, Rasmussen noted.

Over Libya, NATO conducted a successful operation, he stressed.

Rasmussen also noted successes in the fight against piracy off Somalia where NATO forces helped to half the number of vessels captured by pirates.

"These are real achievements, and we can be very proud. On land, sea and in the air, NATO forces worked to keep us all secure," Rasmussen said.

Referring to the NATO Chicago summit in May, he stressed that NATO will have to shape an Alliance which is capable of overcoming the economic crisis while continuing to guarantee security. "We must make sure our Alliance stays committed to our shared security and our shared values. We must stay capable of dealing with current threats and future crises. And we must become more connected with partners around the world partners who also share our values, and our determination to protect them," he added.

Rasmussen noted that NATO had not made much progress in talks with Russia on a NATO missile system in Europe and added that there will not be any summit with Russia in Chicago if no deal is reached by then. (end) nk.ajs KUNA 261702 Jan 12NNNN

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Publication:Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)
Geographic Code:6LIBY
Date:Jan 26, 2012
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