26 July 2013
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said the North Atlantic alliance is still seeking a political solution for the Syrian crisis, which claimed over 2,000 lives since the beginning of the month of Ramadan.
As part of his official visit to Italy, Rasmussen met with President Enrico Letta, as well as defense and foreign ministers.
NATO's position on Syria has not changed, Rasmussen said, with lingering concerns over a possible spreading of violence in the broader Middle East region.
"Our first mission is to protect our allies. For this purpose, we deployed Patriot missiles in Turkey," he said. "But we are extremely worried about the situation there. There's the possibility of a spillover to neighboring countries, and also allegations abound over the use of chemical weapons."
Rasmussen would not be drawn on whether NATO would support a no-fly zone over Syria. When asked, he said he hopes "a political solution can be reached."
During a joint press conference with President Letta, the secretary general thanked the Italian government for the military services of Italian soldiers in NATO's Afghanistan mission.
Letta said his country would continue to support the alliance, and announced he would visit Afghanistan on August 12.
- Green light to Italian SG
Defense Minister Mario Mauro said the Italian government would back former Foreign Minister Franco Frattini's candidacy for NATO Secretary General. Rasmussen's tenure will end in August next year.