Prague, 20 November 2002 (RFE/RL) -- NATO leaders have started to arrive in Prague amid heavy security for the defense alliance's summit in the Czech capital on 21-22 November. U.S. President George W. Bush became one of the first leaders to arrive for the summit when he flew into Prague last night. Bush is due to meet today with fellow NATO leaders including Czech President Vaclav Havel, Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Bush is expected to seek support for the U.S. position in the Iraq crisis.
President Bush plans today to outline a post-Cold War mission for NATO that focuses on global terrorism and confronts other threats. Bush is also to make his case for a reorganized NATO in an afternoon speech to the Prague Atlantic Student Summit. His address to the Student Summit was originally scheduled to be delivered at the headquarters of U.S.-financed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty but moved -- for security reasons -- to a Prague hotel on short notice.
The NATO leaders are due to attend an official dinner at Prague Castle tonight ahead of tomorrow's summit opening.
The summit is expected to result in seven Central and Eastern European countries, including the Baltic nations, being invited to join NATO. The summit is also expected to discuss ways to transform NATO into a more flexible and efficient organization to combat terrorism and other threats.
Thousands of Czech police and soldiers and some 250 U.S. troops are being deployed to guard the summit against terrorist attacks and protest violence. Czech and U.S. fighter aircraft are expected to patrol the skies over Prague.
An explosive device was found on railway tracks in Prague yesterday and defused by bomb experts. Czech authorities said it was not clear whether the incident was connected to the summit.