Visiting NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen signed a joint declaration Monday in Tokyo pledging expanded bilateral cooperation in disaster relief, counterterrorism, nonproliferation and maritime security, particularly measures against piracy.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Rasmussen inked the four-page statement during a ceremony at the prime minister’s office.

Rasmussen particularly praised Japan’s logistical support and other contributions to NATO’s operations in Afghanistan.

“While NATO has no ambition to take on a permanent role in Asia, we see very clearly the advantage of working with like-minded partners like Japan,” Rasmussen told reporters after the signing ceremony.

“That’s what we are doing together in Afghanistan,” so the area will never again be “a safe haven for terrorists” who could threaten international security, he said.

“We thank you for Japan’s enormous contributions to support security and development in Afghanistan,” he said.

Rasmussen also said NATO “strongly condemns” North Korea’s provocative rhetoric and actions.

“I recommend all efforts to seek (a) peaceful solution through dialogue, because nobody could have (an) interest in further escalating the tension in this region,” he said.

In the joint statement, NATO and Japan pledged to be “dedicated to the value of individual liberty, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

“We are each determined to safeguard these shared values as well as the freedom and the security of our population,” the declaration read.

Facing reporters earlier the day, Rasmussen said NATO’s role has greatly changed in recent years as the group and many nonmember nations now face more complex and common global security challenges.

“Today’s NATO is a new NATO. It’s a NATO with a global prospective,” he said. “We (realize that) geography and distance can no longer protect us.”

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