Speaking at a packed public meeting in Reykjanes close to Keflavík Airport, last night, Iceland’s Prime Minister Halldór Ásgrímsson told the crowd that President George W. Bush had met NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer yesterday informing de Hoop Scheffer that the US plans to “modernize” defenses in Iceland.
President Bush told Scheffer that the US would make proposals as to how that will be implemented.
Ásgrímsson said that he and the NATO Secretary General agreed that it was now necessary to wait and see what the US proposals would be.
Regarding the Iceland’s defenses, Ásgrímsson said that the US president had declared he had full intention of honoring the Defense Agreement and the NATO Agreement, but it would now become evident if and how the US could be trusted to fulfill their obligations. “It is a fact that there has been a breach of trust between the two nations following the events of the past few days, and now it will become evident whether or not that trust can be restored between Iceland and the US,” said Ásgrímsson and added that some had said that Iceland should cancel the Defense Agreement.
“It could very well be that that will happen, and I do not find it unlikely that we will at least need to review it, but we will not do that until we have received further answers from the US, and we will not do it until we have consulted with NATO,” said Ásgrímsson.
Ásgrímsson also said that Iceland had made various efforts to adhere to changed conditions in global security. The arrangements for contractors at the base had been changed, and likewise the air terminal and the police. Icelanders were now active members of the military committee of NATO and participated in peacekeeping as well. Iceland was also a member of the Schengen collaboration. All these steps had been taken in response to changed global conditions.