Obama, Nato chief agree Afghan focus for summit
WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama met with Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Wednesday ahead of the upcoming Nato summit to agree to focus on the Afghan conflict at the meeting, the White House said.
At an Oval Office meeting, Obama and Rasmussem agreed the summit would be a time “reaffirm allied commitment to the transition framework” and a move from a combat role to support for “sufficient and sustainable Afghan forces.”
At the summit, Nato will be faced with the thorny issue posed by French president-elect Francois Hollande pledge to speed up his country’s pullout from Afghanistan.
The French Socialist leader campaigned on a promise to start bringing 3,300 French soldiers home this year, ending his country’s combat role two years earlier than Nato’s carefully crafted plan to fully hand security control to Afghans by 2014.
The White House has said the United States will push to modernize the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, deepen partnerships and hammer out details of the Afghanistan withdrawal at a summit.
Some 130,000 foreign troops, most from Nato nations, are fighting alongside 350,000 Afghan security personnel to help Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government reverse the Taliban-led insurgency.
Obama and the Nato chief also discussed the importance of Nato’s partnerships with non-Nato countries, and agreed the summit should be a venue to highlight the need for allies to field Nato’s defence capabilities in the future.