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May 31, 2013

Obama: NATO To Meet Next Year On Afghanistan Withdrawal

by Kent Klein

President Barack Obama and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen have agreed that the alliance will hold a summit next year, as its forces conclude their combat operations in Afghanistan.  

After talking with the NATO leader Friday at the White House, Obama said the U.S.-led international coalition in Afghanistan has achieved significant progress toward handing control of the country’s security to the Afghan people.

“We are now looking, over the next several weeks, to a new milestone, one that was set in Chicago, where we are transitioning to Afghan lead for combat operations in Afghanistan,” said Obama.
 
NATO combat operations in Afghanistan are scheduled to conclude at the end of 2014.  But Rasmussen says some U.S. and NATO troops will remain beyond that time to train, advise and assist Afghan forces.  

“We are determinedly moving towards our goal: an Afghanistan that can stand on its own feet.  But the Afghans will not stand alone,” said Rasmussen. "We are prepared for an enduring partnership with the Afghan people.”

The president said that as the deadline approaches, it would be helpful to hold another NATO summit.

“What we have agreed to is that, in order for us to facilitate this entire process, that it would be appropriate for us to have another NATO summit next year,” said Obama.

The date and location of the summit have not been determined.  The president said Rasmussen is looking for a host country.

The last NATO summit was in Chicago in May, 2012.

The president and the NATO leader also discussed efforts to support democracy in Libya.  And Obama congratulated Rasmussen for his help to Kosovo and Serbia in their recent agreement on steps toward normalizing relations.