Envoy: Secure Europe key interest to U.S.

Jan. 19, 2012 at 11:22 AM

HEIDELBERG, Germany, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- A strong and secure Europe remains a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy initiatives, the U.S. ambassador to NATO told military leaders in Germany.

U.S. President Barack Obama said a new U.S. military strategy includes strengthening its presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Ivo Daalder, the U.S. envoy to NATO, said during remarks at a senior leader's forum that Europe remains essential to the U.S. strategic initiative, however.

"Europe, through NATO, is our partner of choice in confronting modern challenges," he said. "We are committed to this relationship because it works and it has assured our own security for over half a century."

Russia has reacted strongly to plans for a missile defense shield in Europe. The Russian government had said its war in Georgia in 2008 deterred NATO's eastward expansion. Russian officials said they might skip this year's NATO summit unless it secures agreements over European missile defense.

Daalder said, however, the relationship with Russian was moving away from an adversarial position. Nevertheless, a strong Europe was a vital interest of the United States.

"Make no mistake -- a strong and secure Europe remains a crucial part of our foreign policy," he said.

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