Entries in NATO Leaders Summit (4)


Upcoming NATO Summit in Chicago Will Focus on Afghanistan

U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Dexter S. Saulisbury(NEW YORK) -- The NATO summit scheduled for May 20 and 21 in Chicago will be the first time that alliance members have gathered in the U.S. since 1999.

At the top of list of topics will be Afghanistan, according to Gen. Stephane Abrial of the French air force, who is a senior NATO commander.

President Obama was supposed to have signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the summit until Karzai insisted the ceremony take place in Kabul last week.

Even with that behind them, the war in Afghanistan and how NATO will conduct its operations before and after the planned withdrawal of coalition forces by 2014 will take center stage.

Abrial also told reporters Thursday that NATO will also discuss partnership capability, "smart defense" and other matters.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


European Leaders Call on Congress to Ratify START Treaty

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LISBON, Portugal) -- Foreign ministers from six European countries showed up unannounced at a Saturday briefing at the NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal, calling on the United States Senate to ratify the START treaty with Russia.

President Obama has called ratification a "priority" but has run into strong headwinds on Capitol Hill from lawmakers who see it as giving way to Russia on nuclear arms.

In Lisbon, the Danish Foreign Minister Lene Esperson said "It's European security that is at stake."  U.S. lawmakers, like retiring Ohio Sen. George Voinovich, say the START treaty would actually endanger European security.  The Obama administration agrees with Esperson and the other foreign ministers, all from countries near or bordering Russia, that the nuclear arms control treaty is vital to ensuring a reduction in nuclear weapons.  The pact would limit each side to 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads -- a reduction of about one-third.

Republican lawmakers have demanded Senate consideration of the treaty be delayed until next year, when they have a stronger position, with more seats in GOP hands.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


NATO Leaders to Discuss Afghan Exit Plans at Lisbon Summit

Photo Courtesy - Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images(LISBON, Portugal) -- Leaders of NATO countries will grapple with important defense issues, including military presence in Afghanistan, at their summit in Lisbon, Portugal this weekend.

NATO leaders are expected to endorse a plan to gradually bring troops home from Afghanistan in the coming years.  NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says the alliance and Afghan President Hamid Karzai agree on this proposed transition, saying last week that both share commonality "towards greater Afghan leadership of military operations and transition to a supporting role for international forces."  Afghan representatives are expected to attend parts of the meeting.

Earlier this week, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance and Afghan President Hamid Karzai both share commonality "towards greater Afghan leadership of military operations and transition to a supporting role for international forces."

Also on the agenda, NATO leaders will discuss a new mission statement for the future of the alliance, as well as discuss further cooperation with Russia and ways of boosting economic growth and employment in the U.S. and Europe.

"The Lisbon summit will be substantial," Rasmussen said.  "It will shape the future of our alliance."´╗┐

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Afghanistan 2.0: A Look Ahead at Transition

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PARWAN, Afghanistan) -- President Obama will attend the NATO leaders summit next week in Lisbon, Portugal that will likely set 2014 as the target date for NATO to hand over security responsibilities to the Afghan government. However, summit attendees are also likely to approve a timetable that will start that process next spring by turning over the most secure districts and provinces to Afghan control.  ABC News has heard about some of the most likely candidates: Herat Province to the west, Subori District north of Kabul and the central provinces of Bamyan and Panjshir. At the bottom of the list: Kandahar and Helmand.

On Wednesday, insights into the extremely stable security situation in Bamyan, Panjshir and Parwan Provinces in central Afghanistan were revealed. It seems that the security transition has already occurred in all but name in Bamyan and Panjshir provinces. The security situation is so stable there that the U.S. Army task force responsible for security there has no combat forces working in the two provinces. In fact, the only U.S. military presence there is the 50 personnel at the physical readiness trainings and dozens of embedded trainers. The only reason there is a combat battalion in Parwan Province is because the task force is responsible for security at Bagram Air Base, which is located in the province. The three provinces are so secure that there are no Afghan Army troops there and the Afghan National Police that has the lead for security.  The reality on the ground in these provinces right now is the goal for the rest of the country by 2014.

Col. William Roy heads Task Force Wolverine which is nominally in charge of security for the three provinces.  In a videoconference Wednesday, he referred to the current situation in the three provinces as what the next phase of transition in Afghanistan will look like, where stable security allows for economic and political development.  It’s what he likes to call “Afghanistan 2.0."   Another reason Roy’s unit is a peek into the future: two of his battalions have been reassigned to other units in eastern Afghanistan and are engaged in heavy combat.  It’s the premise behind “thinning out” that’ll begin in July, 2011: as secure areas under U.S. control are transitioned, U.S. forces responsible for security will move to other areas where they’re still needed.

Because of the good security situation, Roy’s troops focus on economic development and governance.  He doesn’t think that a formal security transition will lead to a slideback in security.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio´╗┐

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