White House officials talk about G-8, NATO agenda

January 31, 2012 5:10:25 PM PST
Hosting two international summits in one weekend is a mammoth undertaking, but President Obama's influence clearly was a big factor in Chicago being selected as the site for the G-8 and NATO conferences set for the third weekend in May.

Ben Rhodes, one of the president's deputy national security advisors, told reporters Tuesday that while other cities expressed interest in hosting the events, "Chicago really stood out" because it's a global city capable of hosting large scale events and has a diversity that reflects our ties to NATO and the G-8. He added, "the president is therefore proud and pleased to come home to have his city host."

Representatives of over 50 countries will be coming to Chicago for the two summits which formally began May 19th and end the 21st. G-8 leaders are expected to discuss a wide variety of issues dealing with transitions to democracy in the Arab world and helping nations with inadequate food supplies learn how to properly feed themselves.

The NATO summit will focus part of its time on the planned withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and turning over control of sections of that country to local government leaders.

While those are some of the expected orders of business, thousands of protesters are expected to march and demonstrate in Chicago during the summits. Rhodes says those demonstrations are "part and parcel of these summits," but that the expectation going in is that Chicago police will have a plan in place to adequately handle the demonstrations.

Those plans are still being formulated. Leading up to and during that weekend, Chicago police officers will be going on 12 hour shifts. Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says he intends to use only Chicago police officers in covering the summits, but that it may be necessary to bring in sworn officers from other departments.