NATO summit in Chicago begins with messages of confidence and solidarity about the future of Afghanistan; U.S and Southeast Asian nations discuss security cooperation
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  • In a significant development, reports noted that the opening day of the NATO summit in Chicago started with messages of confidence and solidarity about the future of Afghanistan. After meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai for more than an hour on May 20, 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama expressed confidence saying that said “we are on the right track, and what this NATO summit reflects is that the world is behind the strategy that we’ve laid out. During their joint press conference, Karzai said that with the signing of the strategic partnership agreement at the beginning of the month, the two countries turned a new page in their relationship. Karzai stated, “And the new page is a page of two sovereign countries working together for the mutual interests — peace and security and in all other areas of concentration,”. The strategic partnership agreement, which Obama signed with Karzai May 1, 2012, lays out the U.S. commitment to the country after American combat troops leave. One of the goals of the NATO summit is to firm up the contributions that other NATO members will make to the Afghan mission beyond 2014. Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stataed in his official opening remarks, “We will make clear our commitment to a long-term partnership with the Afghan people beyond 2014, so that Afghanistan never again harbors terrorists that can attack us at home and so that Afghans can look forward to a better future in a stable region,”. 1

    In another development, according to reports, the U.S. and Southeast Asian nations embarked on three days of talks on May 20, 2012 which would include security cooperation, shortly after a Pentagon report raised concerns about China’s military build-up. The Philippines, hosts of the discussions and an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member, is engaged in a month-long maritime stand-off with China over a disputed shoal in the South China Sea. “Eminent persons” and senior officials from the United States and ASEAN would meet from May 20-22 in Manila, U.S. embassy and Philippine foreign department statements said. 2