The Secretary General of NATO has a secret tool for effective diplomacy: the bicycle.
Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Power Players that he’s been able to resolve conflicts with heads of state and international conflict negotiators during bike rides.
“When you take a break and drink some water, you can have a confidential conversation without your collaborators around you, so you can solve a lot of problems that way,” Rasmussen said, following a meeting with President Obama at the White House.
While Rasmussen would not reveal the names of all the heads of state he’s biked with, he did identify one former U.S. president by name.
“It’s no secret that I have done a mountain bike ride twice with former President [George W.] Bush,” he said. “I have done bike rides in Europe with European prime ministers, and during those bike rides, we have also discussed political issues.”
On the topic of Syria, Rasmussen opposes a military intervention and says Turkey’s security is NATO’s main focus, which he says is the reason why NATO has sent missiles to the country.
“It's a question about how can we facilitate an end to the bloodshed in Syria, and I do believe that the right way forward is a political solution. Any foreign military intervention might have unpredictable regional consequences,” he says.
When asked to respond to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent remark that NATO risks sliding into “military irrelevance,” because of a “shrinking percentage of members willing and able to pay the price and bear the burdens of common defense," Rasmussen agreed with Clinton that a strong monetary commitment to NATO is essential.
“Hillary was and is actually a very strong NATO supporter,” Rasmussen said. “She pointed to the fact that we need a strong commitment from NATO allies to invest a sufficient amount of money in defense capabilities if we are to ensure that alliance is relevant in the future, and in that respect, I fully agree with her.”
For more of the interview with Rasmussen, including the story of how President Obama introduced Rasmussen to a famously American beverage, the root beer float, check out this episode of Power Players.
ABC's Betsy Klein, Eric Wray, Jim Martin, and Mary Quinn contributed to this episode.