WASHINTON – NATO's new secretary general expects the international alliance will play a greater role in Iraq and may even take over a division in the southern part of the country after the transfer of power if asked to do so by the new interim Iraqi government.
In an exclusive interview with Fox News -- his first television appearance -- Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (search) said the alliance is strong but transforming, taking on more responsibility.
"NATO is transforming, exporting security ... trying to stabilize," he said. "That's definitely a new role."
De Hoop Scheffer pointed out that NATO (search) is assisting the multinational force in southern Iraq, led by the Polish, and is also helping Spain, Italy and other NATO countries on the ground there. Of the 19 NATO nations, plus the seven nations that will soon be added, 18 of them have troops in Iraq.
Plans are ambitious, given that the alliance has just taken responsibility of the international security assistance force in Afghanistan and will be expanding beyond the capital city of Kabul (search). De Hoop Scheffer conceded, however, that some NATO countries say their troop supply is already overstretched.
But he stressed that the war on terror is something the international community and NATO "cannot afford to lose."
Click here to watch the exclusive interview with Fox News Channel's Bret Baier.