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Obama: World is Behind Strategy for Afghanistan

May 20, 2012

U.S. President Barack Obama says the NATO summit in Chicago shows that the world is behind the strategy to help Afghanistan achieve peace and development.

Mr. Obama spoke alongside Afghan President Hamid Karzai on the sidelines of the summit Sunday. The U.S. president is hosting representatives from more than 50 countries to discuss NATO's future in Afghanistan, from transferring all security control to Kabul in 2014 to providing assistance in the long term.

President Obama said all of this is part of a shared vision NATO has that Afghanistan can transition from decades of war to a transformative decade of peace and development.

Mr. Karzai said that Afghanistan is looking forward to an end to the war and its transformation, so that it is no longer a burden to the international community.

Earlier Sunday, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said "there will be no rush for the exits" in Afghanistan, despite the new French government's promise to withdraw troops two years ahead of schedule.

Rasmussen promised that the coalition would see its operation through until it successfully hands over security control to the Afghan government by the end of 2014.

On Friday, newly elected French President Francois Hollande, who is attending the NATO summit, told Mr. Obama that he will fulfill his campaign promise to withdraw 3,500 French troops serving in Afghanistan by the end of the year. However, he promised that his country would continue to support NATO's Afghan mission in a different way.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari also is attending the summit at the invitation of NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Leading up to the summit, it had been unclear if a Pakistani representative would attend. Islamabad had closed its borders to NATO supply convoys destined for Afghanistan about six months ago after U.S.-led air strikes mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers along the Afghan border.

Pakistan agreed this past week to reopen the key NATO supply routes.

Afghan presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi told VOA that Pakistan has a role in the complex peace process because the sanctuaries of Afghanistan's armed opposition remain in Pakistan. Mr. Zardari and Mr. Karzai are expected to meet while in Chicago.

The 25th NATO summit, which lasts through Monday, also will focus the alliance's partnerships throughout the world and on how to deepen those relationships.

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