Secretary general talks NATO preps

May 19, 2012 9:04:21 PM PDT
A steady stream of journalists arrive -- navigating the many layers of security around McCormick Place. An increased security presence alludes to the guests yet to arrive.

NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen also made his first public remarks in Chicago Saturday.

NATO's secretary general spoke with journalists, sharing expectations for the summit, including an agreement on a European missile defense plan as well as specific commitments to support Afghanistan after the 2014 transition from international forces to Afghan troops.

Rasmussen dispatched NATO's assistant secretary general Thursday to meet with protest organizers.

While more protests are expected throughout the summit, the secretary general will turn his attention to what's happening inside McCormick Place Sunday.

But first on Saturday, running parallel the NATO summit was the Young Atlanticists Summit. Organized by the Atlantic Council, dozens of young professionals from Chicago and around the world were chosen as possible leaders of the future. They debated the same issues on the NATO summit agenda.

"We have elected officials, young CEOs, analysts... journalists, a really diverse group intentionally because we want a diverse dialogue," said David Kirk, Atlantic Council.

Among the first duties of NATO's secretary general was addressing the Atlanticists, then to McCormick Place to speak with journalists about Sunday's summit.

"This summit will demonstrate NATO's role as part of a network of partnerships, and that's why this will be the largest for NATO," said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO secretary general.

The secretary general expects for allies to determine as part of the exit strategy from Afghanistan by 2014, additional training for Afghan troops in 2015.

"A new NATO-led mission will start from 2015. That will be a training mission to train, assist, give advice to the Afghan security forces. That will be one concrete result from this summit," said Rasmussen.

The summit discussions will be serious and intense with only 24 hours. So prior to the summit the secretary general was able to take in one of his favorite parts of Chicago early Saturday morning.

"It's really great to run with Lake Michigan on the one side and the very impressive Chicago skyline on the other side. It has become a tradition for me that whenever I visit Chicago, I take a run," said Rasmussen.

Saturday morning, Rasmussen addressed global economics, the changing role of NATO as well as the organization's role in the war in Afghanistan.

"NATO itself is transforming, trying to meet the new challenges and the world beyond them." said Lt. Col. Antonio Delgaudio of the Italian Army Division.

"No matter how much effort you put in addressing terrorism within Afghanistan, as long as the Taliban core leadership is based in Pakistan and directing attacks against American forces, we will not be able to address this issue," said Afghanistan government official Tamim Asey.

The 12th head of NATO made his comments during a keynote speech delivered at this year's Atlanticist summit.

At the event, organized by the Atlantic Council, dozens of young professionals from Chicago and around the world are recognized as leaders of the future.

"We have elected officials, we have young CEOs, we have analysts, academics, journalists, so we have a really diverse group," said Kirk.

The secretary general arrived at O'Hare International Airport Friday night and was greeted by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for what is Rasmussen's first on-the-record event before dozens of heads of state converge on the city for this weekend's NATO summit.

"On its own, no nation would be able to provide this level of protection for its people," Rasmussen said. "But by working together, through NATO, we can."

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