Washington — President Obama and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen met November 7 to discuss NATO’s just-ended mission to support Libya and to discuss goals for the 2012 Chicago summit, which will feature discussions on Afghanistan.
A significant part of their meeting in the Oval Office was focused on NATO’s defense capabilities to meet future security threats, which is expected to be a dominant theme at the next summit, the White House said in a prepared statement. Obama is hosting the 25th NATO summit May 20–21 in Chicago. The 2010 summit was held in Lisbon November 19–20.
“They agreed that the Chicago Summit should seek to further broaden and deepen NATO’s relationships with non-NATO partner nations,” the statement said.
“Additionally, the president and secretary-general discussed the important progress made by the NATO-led ISAF mission in Afghanistan,” the White House said. ISAF is the multinational International Security Assistance Force that is providing training, security and humanitarian assistance throughout Afghanistan.
Obama and Rasmussen also discussed how the Chicago summit might shape the next major phase of transition in Afghanistan, the statement said.
In a White House speech June 22, Obama said he had ordered the gradual withdrawal of approximately 33,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan beginning in July as part of a larger process to withdraw U.S. forces as Afghan national security forces assume greater responsibility for the nation’s security by 2014. Throughout the process, though, Obama has stressed that the withdrawal of forces will be influenced by actual security conditions in Afghanistan.
“After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan security forces move into the lead. Our mission will change from combat to support,” Obama said. “By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.”
Obama and Rasmussen’s White House meeting occurred one week after NATO’s formal seven-month security support mission for Libya ended.
“The president and the secretary-general agreed that by acting quickly and decisively NATO saved the lives of thousands of Libyan civilians,” the White House said. The eight-month Libyan revolution brought to an end the 42-year regime of dictator Muammar Qadhafi.
After meeting with Obama at the White House, Rasmussen held closed talks with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon at the State Department. Rasmussen was also expected to meet with members of the U.S. Congress.