NATO Leaders Accept Obama's Afghanistan Exit Strategy
The final day of the two-day NATO summit in Chicago ended Monday with leaders agreeing to President Barack Obama's plan in leaving Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
President Obama said that they had "a clear road map" to bring the war to an end. Among the leaders present at the summit was Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
"I don't think that there's ever going to be an optimal point where we say -- this is all done, this is perfect, this is just the way we wanted it and now we can wrap up all our equipment and go home. This is a process, and it's sometimes a messy process, just as it was in Iraq," said President Obama, according to CNN.
President Obama's plan involves handing national security over to Afghan forces by 2013 and then withdrawing all international troops by 2014. CNN also reported that NATO officials agreed to fund Afghan forces $4 billion per year after the NATO mission has been finalized. Afghanistan forces are expected to reach 350,000 by 2013— a number that Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen thinks will decrease "depending on the security situation on the ground and other factors."
Rasmussen also told CNN he is hopeful that Pakistan would reopen its borders to Afghanistan to facilitate the removal of foreign troops.
"So far, the closure of the transit routes has not had a major impact on our operations," Rasmussen said, adding that the transit routes were very important and that he expected their reopening "in the very near future."
Pakistan had closed its borders following a November NATO airstrike that killed two dozen of its soldiers that NATO said was accidental.
President Obama did not apologize for the incident and the minimal interaction between Obama and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari at the summit was being described as tense.
The Guardian reported:
- Obama declined to meet Zadari one-to-one because Pakistan is refusing to re-open its Afghanistan border to Nato, which means the US and others are having to resupply their military forces through the slower and more expensive routes from the north and Russia.
- The president claimed that he never anticipated the Pakistan supply line issue being resolved at the summit and, taking a more optimistic view of the stand-off, he said they were making "diligent progress".
- "We think that Pakistan has to be part of the solution in Afghanistan. Neither country is going to have the kind of security, stability and prosperity that it needs unless they can resolve some of these outstanding issues," Obama said.
However, President Obama did acknowledge and commend the Chicago police for managing the protests that occurred outside the summit while also giving a some praise to the protesters themselves, according to The Guardian.
"This is part of what Nato defends: free speech and freedom of assembly," Obama said.