The U.S. and its NATO allies will focus their summit next year on postwar planning for Afghanistan, President Barack Obama said.
Obama announced the subject of the alliance’s 2014 summit today as he finished a meeting at the White House with Anders Fogh Rasmussen, secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The men also discussed Syria, Libya, cybersecurity and joint surveillance capabilities. They didn’t publicly address non-combat troop levels in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
The summit will be an opportunity for the 28-member organization “to underscore this final chapter in our Afghan operations but also to paint a picture of the future whereby we’re partnering with the Afghan government on behalf of the Afghan people and on behalf of world security,” Obama said. The location hasn’t been set.
The U.S. and its allies want to be sure that “Afghan security forces are effective and can control their own borders and that NATO members can be assured the Afghanistan will not be used as a base for terrorism in the future,” he said.
Obama and Rasmussen didn’t answer questions about whether they discussed potential NATO involvement in Syria, where Obama has said all options remain on the table to respond to violence by Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Laura Lucas said in an e-mail that Obama and Rasmussen “did discuss the continuing violence in Syria” while “we do not see a role for NATO at this time.”
Today’s meeting followed an April visit by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to the NATO council in Brussels, where Kerry talked about the alliance considering a response if the Syrian regime is found to be using chemical weapons on its people. Any NATO intervention could fuel tensions with Russia.
The U.S. still has 66,000 forces in Afghanistan, more than 11 years after the invasion. It plans to withdraw most of its troops by December 2014 with a small force staying on for training Afghans and conducting counterterrorism operations. NATO and non-NATO countries have pledged $4.1 billion in annual support through 2017 to help Afghanistan.