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188 words - January 16, 2013 | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
Like his predecessor Robert M. Gates, Leon E. Panetta has chosen Europe for his "likely (…) last international trip as US Secretary of Defense," His trip led him to Portugal, Spain, Italy and Great Britain. His farewell visit to what he labeled as the "most capable defense partners in Europe" showed the United States still attaches much importance to NATO. In meetings with counterparts, Mr. Panetta insisted on the ongoing "strong commitment to the NATO mission in Afghanistan." The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is several months away from moving into a supporting role once Afghan forces assume the lead for security responsibility across their country this spring. From a wider perspective, NATO is a model for "building new partnerships and alliances in the world," he said. And despite the US shift in Asia-Pacific, Secretary Panetta stressed his country's new strategy will not weaken the Atlantic Alliance "today, tomorrow and in the 21st century." In the face of the growing cyberthreat, and terrorist activity in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Mali, NATO will remain the main provider of global stability.
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