We will complete Afghan mission: Obama

The NATO Summit in Chicago would chart the next phase of transition in Afghanistan, US President Barack Obama has said.

Updated: May 21, 2012, 09:22 AM IST

Washington: The NATO Summit in Chicago would chart the next phase of transition in Afghanistan, US President Barack Obama has said.

"Over the next two days, we`ll meet -- first as allies and then with (Afghan) President (Hamid) Karzai and our international partners -- to chart the next phase of the transition in Afghanistan," Obama said in his address to the NATO leaders during the inaugural session of the meeting yesterday.

"Just as we`ve sacrificed together for our common security, we will stand together, united, in our determination to complete this mission," Obama said.

Leaders of more than 60 countries are attending the two-day NATO Summit.

"I look forward to our meeting with NATO`s neighbours and our partners around the world who have been so critical to NATO operations as in Afghanistan and Libya. It will be another reminder that NATO is truly a hub of a network of global security partners. There is nothing else like it on Earth," he said.

Obama said for over 65 years, the alliance has been the bedrock of their common security, of freedom and of prosperity.

"And though the times may have changed, the fundamental reason for our alliance has not," he said.

"Our nations are stronger and more prosperous when we stand together. In good times and in bad, our alliance has endured; in fact, it has thrived -- because we share an unbreakable commitment to the freedom and security of our citizens," the US President said.

"We`ve seen this from the Cold War to the Balkans, from Afghanistan to Libya. And that`s the spirit that we need to sustain here in Chicago, and with an alliance that is focused squarely on the future," he said, adding that during the Lisbon meet, the United States and its partners agreed to a bold plan of action to revitalise the alliance.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the two-day summit here has three priorities: Keeping Afghanistan secure, keeping NATO strong and keeping the global network and partners solid.

"Today, we 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," Rasmussen said.

"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 Defence. And I expect we will take the first step to make our missile defence system operational," he said.

The NATO chief said that the NATO alliances will shape the next stage in our engagement with Afghanistan and complete transition of security responsibility to the Afghans by the end of 2014.

However, he said, that they will continue to support the country for the long-term.

"Together with our ISAF partners, we will meet President Karzai, leaders of many countries in the region and beyond, and key international organisations. This will be a powerful demonstration of the commitment of the whole international community to the future of Afghanistan," said the NATO Secretary General.

PTI