Aznar urges that NATO expand its geographic scope

Former Spanish Prime Minister &to=' target=_blank>Jose Maria Aznar said Wednesday that democracies like Japan, Australia and Israel should be invited to join NATO to make the alliance more effective in the fight against terrorism.

"In order to win this battle against the terrorist evil, NATO must expand its geographical scope," Aznar said.

A "new NATO" must be forged to deal with new realities, he added.

Aznar, who left office in March 2004, heads a Spanish think tank, FAES, which is linked to his Popular Party. He spoke to a gathering at the American Enterprise Institute.

As prime minister, Aznar won favor here by dispatching Spanish troops to join oalition forces in Iraq. But his Socialists successors withdrew them not long after taking office.