Afghanistan exit strategy to dominate Nato summit
Representatives from the 28 member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) military alliance are meeting in the United States. The war in Afghanistan will top the agenda, with French president François Hollande expected to announce a timeline for the withdrawal of French troops.
Delegates have arrived in the northern city of Chicago for the 25th annual Nato summit. On Saturday Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the secretary general of Nato said talks would focus on Afghanistan and the strengthen of ties with non-Nato members.
French president, François Hollande was among the first to arrive at the summit along with other G8 leaders following their meeting at Camp David. Hollande made an election promise to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012. Just last week Hollande reiterated his promise saying that the early withdrawal was “non-negotiable.”
Hollande did, however, say he would still honour the French-Afghan treaty, signed earlier this year by former president Nicolas Sarkozy. The treaty proposes training programmes and support to Afghan military forces after a foreign troop withdrawal.
There are currently around 130,000 US-led Nato troops in Afghanistan, 3500 of those are French. France is among the biggest military powers in Nato in which members guarantee at least two per cent of their Gross Domestic Production is spent on defence.
Douglas Yates in a political science professor at the American University of Paris. He says part of the reason Hollande wants to leave Afghanistan early is for financial reasons.
“François Hollande does not want to spend any money on the Afghanistan war,” Yates told RFI.
Meanwhile outside the conference hall anti-war protesters are gathering. Among them are the Iraq Veterans Against War who are calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
“When we arrive at the summit we will ask to see a Nato general so we can hand back our medals,” explained Scott Kimball a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
The group liken themselves to the veterans who returned to the US from Viet Nam during the war there, joined the protest movement in the early 1970s and threw their medals on the White House lawn.
Security is tight at the two-day Nato summit which is scheduled to end on Monday.