News / Asia

NATO Leaders Commit to Afghan Transition

U.S. President Barack Obama holds a news conference after the 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago at McCormick Place in Chicago, May 21,
U.S. President Barack Obama holds a news conference after the 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago at McCormick Place in Chicago, May 21,
CHICAGO -   Leaders of the 28 NATO countries ended their summit in Chicago on Monday, pledging an "irreversible" commitment to transition in Afghanistan.  The leaders committed to greater efficiencies, while reaffirming the alliance's defense commitments.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai sat with NATO leaders and representatives of other nations whose support Afghanistan will need if it is to move from war to stability. NATO leaders formally approved the plan to transfer lead responsibility for combat operations to Afghan security forces by the middle of next year.

U.S. President Barack Obama said this is part of a road map to wind down the war and move toward the planned withdrawal of foreign combat troops by the end of 2014.  

"This will not mark the end of Afghanistan's challenges, obviously, or our partnership with that important country.  But we are making substantial progress against our core objective of defeating al-Qaida and denying it safe haven, and helping Afghans to stand on their own," Obama said.

NATO is gathering commitments to pay for long-term training of Afghanistan's military.  Annual costs after 2014 are put at a little more than $4 billion and will be reviewed regularly based on the security situation.

President Obama had a brief discussion with President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan who was invited to Chicago by NATO.  Obama said he believes there has been progress in resolving tensions over NATO supply routes that Pakistan closed last year.

Despite what he called "real improvement" in removing Taliban strongholds, President Obama called the gains in Afghanistan "fragile."  But he said the strategy eventually will allow the United States to direct resources to investments needed at home.

"Whereby we can achieve a stable Afghanistan that won't be perfect, we can pull back our troops in a responsible way, and we can start rebuilding America and start making some of the massive investments we made in Afghanistan, here back home," the president said.

NATO also made decisions to ensure the alliance's viability and its capability to respond to future threats in difficult economic times.

Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that includes a commitment to "smart defense" strategies and resource sharing.  

"We have decided to invest smartly in our defense, even in times of austerity, and we have engaged with our partners around the world to address the challenges we all face in the 21st century," he said.

Reporters asked President Obama about the demonstrations by various groups in his hometown that at times turned violent. That is part of what America is about, he said, thanking city residents for enduring traffic jams and drawing laughter when he said this:

"Despite being 15 minutes away from my house, nobody would let me go home.  I was thinking I would be able to sleep in my own bed tonight.  They said I would cause even worse traffic, so I ended up staying in a hotel -- which contributes to the Chicago economy," Obama said.

The NATO summit capped four days of high-level diplomacy, including Obama's hosting of the G8 summit at Camp David, Maryland.

You May Like

Obama: Action on Climate Change 'Economic, Security Imperative'

President spoke to reporters on sidelines of UN Climate Summit outside Paris, where leaders are working to agree on binding measures

IMF Bets on China’s Resolve to Reform

IMF announcement already raising questions about just how much Beijing is committed to such reforms

UNICEF: Hidden Epidemic of HIV Among Adolescents

Researchers warn that Asia Pacific nations facing sharp rise in incidence of HIV among adolescents

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Haron from: Afghanistan
May 22, 2012 8:30 AM
you country did a lot of mistakes & these mistakes are not from now or fresh. but these were a long term in the past. America done a job before they think & finally they groan to mistakes. they never accepted whom had rights to build a country? whom had rights to take the power obsolve the problems. as today millions of million people ask from their government about their bloods & $ 2 trillion

by: Jerry from: Texas
May 22, 2012 7:55 AM
So Presidents Obama's war will have no winner, we have paid dearly with blood, we support a corrupt government, dis liked by its people, and is the largest opium producer in the world. Which we will support for years with our tax dollars. Not a lot to celebrate in my opinion, but then who cares what a taxpayer wants any way.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs