Obama, NATO chief put Afghanistan atop summit agenda
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and US President Barack Obama, host of the alliance's summit this month, agreed that the conflict in Afghanistan would be one of the topics addressed at the meeting, DPA reported.
The two leaders established during Wednesday's Oval Office meeting that defence capabilities and NATO partnerships with countries outside the alliance would also rank as the top issues for the May 20-21 summit in Chicago.
Obama and Rasmussen said the annual summit would plan for the final stages of the security transition in Afghanistan, which is seeing NATO forces shift from a combat to a support role as Afghan forces take over security responsibilities, the White House said.
The United States is targeting a 2014 withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, depending on conditions on the ground where the Kabul-based, Western-backed government under President Hamid Karzai is battling Taliban insurgents.
The summit is meant to "highlight the commitment of allies to field the defence capabilities that NATO needs for the 21st century," the White House said.
Obama and Rasmussen expected "that allies would be in a position to announce progress on a number of key capabilities initiatives, including on missile defence," it said.
Obama and Rasmussen discussed the importance of NATO's partnerships with non-NATO countries, with 13 partner nations invited to Chicago to discuss deepening their relationships with the alliance.
"NATO is now a hub for a global network of security partners, which have served alongside NATO forces in Afghanistan, Libya and Kosovo," the White House said.