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NATO Leaders Gather for Summit


Leaders from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have gathered in Strasbourg on the French-German border for the 60th anniversary of the alliance. Events will be a mixture of ceremony and symbolism amid discussions on Afghanistan and NATO's future.

NATO at 60 -- this summit is to showcase an alliance still going strong.

There will be a good deal of symbolism - NATO leaders meeting on both sides of the Rhine River, walking across the bridge from Germany into France.

Part of this summit will be a celebration, said NATO spokesman James Appathurai.

"It is 60 years of success for NATO, but we want to look forward, as well. It'll be part of President Obama's first trip to Europe, meeting his NATO colleagues for the first time, and that alone is something we want to celebrate. It's taking place at the heart of Europe, and we think that is an important symbolic moment, as well," he said.

This summit will also see France re-joining the alliance's integrated command after a more than 40 year hiatus.

And, there will be discussions on current and future missions for NATO, including Afghanistan. U.S. President Barack Obama has already outlined Washington's new strategy, to deal strategically with Afghanistan and Pakistan together, to focus on both military and civilian development efforts and to step up diplomacy by bringing in neighboring countries as part of the solution.

That approach has already found favor here, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel noting that Washington's new approach is very much in line with what Germany has been advocating.

Friday was a day of bilateral meetings. President Obama held talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and with Chancellor Merkel. He also held a town meeting-style gathering with young people, talking about change, hope and a new day for U.S.-Europe relations.

Security is tight, with massive police deployments in and around the city. Clashes between anti-war, anti-NATO and anarchist protesters have already taken place, and major demonstrations are expected on Saturday.
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