Secretary General Fogh
Rasmussen Kicks Off NATO Summit in Chicago
May 21, 2012
NATO’s largest-ever summit opened
here today to focus on keeping Afghanistan secure, ensuring NATO’s
capability in the 21st century, and enhancing the alliance’s global
network of partners, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
Representatives from 60 countries and organizations have gathered in
this busy midwestern U.S. city for a meeting that NATO officials
characterize as preparation for the alliance’s future.
President Barack Obama arrived this morning after hosting a daylong G-8
summit at Camp David in Maryland with leaders of Great Britain, Canada,
France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is here to participate in discussions
and attend North Atlantic Council sessions on 21st-century NATO
capabilities, the long-term commitment of nations participating in the
International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and NATO
Panetta also will convene a working dinner of his fellow defense
ministers, attend a signing ceremony for the purchase by 13 NATO allies
of a ground surveillance system for future alliance operations, and join
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki for a visit to a
first-of-its-kind joint Defense Department-VA hospital in north Chicago.
During a short preliminary briefing on the first day of the two-day
international meeting, Rasmussen said discussions today will focus on
security in an age of austerity.
“We will ensure that the alliance has the capabilities to deal with the
security challenges of the future, even as we tackle the economic
challenges of the present,” he told reporters at the summit’s media
center at McCormick Place on the shore of Lake Michigan.
“We will adopt a concrete package of multinational projects which can
provide greater security for all our citizens at lower cost, we will
embrace a renewed culture of cooperation which we call ‘smart defense,’
and I expect we will take the first step to make our missile defense
system operational,” he added.
on the second day of the summit, Rasmussen said, “we will meet 13 of our
most active partners around the globe, from Europe to Asia and the
Middle East, because today’s security challenges are global and they
need global solutions.”
NATO will continue to cooperate with partners from around the world,
building on successes “so that we can provide more security for NATO,
for our partners, and for the world,” he added.
Tomorrow also will be the day that summit participants shape the next
stage of NATO’s engagement with Afghanistan. “We will complete
transition of security responsibility to the Afghans by the end of 2014,
but we will continue to support them for the long term,” Rasmussen said.
NATO officials and ISAF partners will meet with Afghan President Hamid
Karzai, leaders of many countries in the region and beyond, and key
international organizations, the secretary general added.
“This will be a powerful demonstration of the commitment of the whole
international community to the future of Afghanistan,” he said.