NATO grants U.S. aid request©Associated Press
© St. Petersburg Times,
BRUSSELS -- Making good on their pledge, the NATO allies on Thursday granted the United States open access to their airfields and seaports and agreed to deploy ships and early-warning radar planes in Washington's war against terrorism.
They also promised to plug any holes in NATO manpower if U.S. troops are pulled from Europe for duty against terrorist targets in retaliation for the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
The NATO decision came at a meeting of the ambassadors of NATO's 19 nations and was hailed as a "unique event in NATO's history" by Nicholas Burns, the U.S. envoy.
It follows the allies' decision to consider the attacks on the United States as an attack against all NATO nations.
"The United States is delighted the allies acted together collectively," Burns said.
The U.S. request for help was deliberately vague and "not time-limited," NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said, because Washington "has not yet decided how it will respond militarily and in other ways."
Allied support was designed to "make sure that the right facilities and the right capabilities can be deployed in the right way and at the right time," he said. "Today's decision clearly demonstrates the allies' resolve to combat terrorism."
NATO allies of the United States on Thursday agreed to a U.S. request for these specific measures of assistance in the fight against terrorism:
"Blanket overflight clearances" for U.S. and other NATO warplanes en route to attacks against terrorist targets.
Access to ports and airfields for U.S. and other NATO ships "for operations against terrorism, including for refueling."
Increased sharing of -- and cooperation in gathering -- intelligence dealing with terrorism.
Help for NATO nations facing "increased terrorist threats as a result of their support for the campaign against terrorism."
Increased security for embassies and other "facilities of the United States and other allies on their territory."
Fill any gaps that may open as the United States and other allies withdraw planes, ships and other assets that are normally used for the defense of the NATO territory, in the fight against terrorism.
Also, the NATO allies said they stood ready to:
Deploy warships in the eastern Mediterranean to fly the NATO flag "to provide a NATO presence and demonstrate resolve" on the alliance's volatile southeastern flank.
Use AWACS radar planes "to support operations against terrorism."
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From the Times wire desk
From the AP