NEW YORK: Next NATO summit to be in Chicago
REPORTING FROM NEW YORK -- Officials of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have decided they will hold their next summit in Chicago on May 20-21, 2012, the same month that the Group of 8 industrialized nations will gather in the city.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO's secretary-general, disclosed the dates in an interview. He said the alliance will be considering several issues, including its missile defense system and its mission in Afghanistan.
At a summit in Lisbon last year, NATO laid out how, between now and 2014, it will gradually shift the burden of security in Afghanistan to the Afghan army and police forces. In Chicago, the group will consider its post-2014 role, which is likely to be mainly focused on training Afghan security forces.
U.S. officials have recently begun considering how they will scale back their spending in Afghanistan to assistance that the Afghans will be able to pay for when foreign powers leave. U.S. officials want to cut back on spending for air conditioning, for example.
But Rasmussen said that so far there has been no new discussion of how the other NATO countries, most of them facing financial hardship at home, can begin scaling back their spending.
The NATO members will also discuss the future of their long-planned missile defense system, which they hope to be able to activate in May. Discussions may focus on NATO's hopes for Russian collaboration in the system, though this remains only "a possibility," Rasmussen said.
Protest groups have promised they will turn out by the thousands to demonstrate against the G-8 and NATO meetings.
Photo: NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is interviewed at the 66th United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 21, 2011. Credit: Eric Thayer / Reuters