NATO: Chicago summit shows commitment 'unchanged'

February 29, 2012 3:37:47 AM PST
Against a backdrop of radical violence in Afghanistan and economic turmoil across Europe, top NATO officials discussed the upcoming Chicago summits.

Chicago will host the NATO and G8 summits jointly in May.

On Tuesday, NATO officials spoke about recent violence against coalition troops at an Afghanistan base following the burning of Muslim holy books. Two U.S. officers were killed and NATO withdrew advisors from Afghan ministries.

Despite the challenges, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said NATO will stay the course in Afghanistan.

"And we will not allow extremists to weaken our resolve," Rasmussen said. "That is our commitment and our commitment remains unchanged. And our Chicago summit in May will make clear that we stand firm on that commitment. At Chicago we will also build on what we discussed at this seminar-how to sustain the operations of today and face security challenges of tomorrow. By continuing to strengthen our core capabilities and transform our forces."

Even though the prospects of anarchist street violence in Chicago during the summits have garnered most of the public attention, there will be serious foreign policies and issues on the agenda. Summit sources say atop the list will be transition to full independent Afghan security by the end of 2014, which means U.S. troops would be gone. Also on that list-- a smart defense platform by NATO coalition nations; as well as missile defense, ground surveillance and air policing capabilities; and nuclear policies considering the growing threats from Iran, Korea and in South Asia.

There has been speculation in foreign affairs circles that NATO and Russia might hold a side summit while in Chicago this coming May to discuss nuclear issues and common air defense needs. On Tuesday, the secretary general of NATO said he doesn't think such a separate summit with Russian leaders will happen in Chicago.