US defence experts met Prime Minister last time before Prague

14.10.2002 | 00:00

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Tallinn, Stenbock HouseOctober 11, 2002Prime Minister Siim Kallas met a high-level delegation of the United States today, led by Ambassador Nicholas Burns of the US Mission to NATO.The aim of the meeting for the US delegation was to get up-to-date and information about Estonia´s activities in preparation for joining NATO for the last time before the Prague Summit. Kallas gave an overview of the Progress Report published on Wednesday and of negotiations for accession to the European Union. Kallas confirmed the continuing Government support to maintaining defence expenditure at two per cent of GDP and the stable public support to Estonia´s NATO accession. As an example of Estonia´s cooperation with the USA, the Prime Minister referred to his speech made yesterday at the Pärnu Management Conference in which Kallas spoke to the audience about the ally- relations of Estonia and the USA in the context of international security. "Ask us if we´re with you, and we say, yes, we´re with you. This is the moral and right answer," Kallas said.Minister of Defence Sven Mikser gave an overview of the Estonian Defence Forces´ structural reform and its implementation, the future of the rapid reaction battalion ESTBAT, development of host nation support system for receiving allied troops in Estonia, and the development of information security.Nicolas Burns thanked Estonia for her efforts to join NATO. Although Burns stressed that the enlargement decision would be made in Prague, he spoke of the accession process after the candidate countries receive the invitation. "If we´re partners today, then after the Prague Summit we will become allies, " Burns said. "A battlefield is to be thought of today completely differently than in the past. The sole option for small nations is to find their niche and specialise," Ian Brzezinski, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for European and NATO Affairs, pointed out at the meeting.The delegation members had positive memories of the US visit of Mr Kallas at the beginning of September. According to them, the conversation with the Estonian Prime Minister greatly impressed the President of the United States and he has made many references to it.At the end of the meeting, Sven Mikser and Ian Brzezinski signed the agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Estonia Concerning Cooperation in the Area of the Prevention of Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the Promotion of Defense and Military RelationsThe meeting was also attended by Robert Bradkel and Heather Conley, US Deputy Assistant Secretaries of State, Kurt Volker, Director for NATO and West-European Affairs of the President´s National Security Council, Joseph DeThomas, US Ambassador to Estonia, Kristiina Ojuland, Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sven Mikser, Estonian Minister of Defence, and Sulev Kannike, Estonian Ambassador to NATO.Hanna HinrikusGovernment spokesperson

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