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March 27, 2023

NATO summit opens against backdrop of protests, foiled terror plot

Protesters set up media center, three charged in domestic terror plot.

The road map out of the war in Afghanistan was expected to be drawn up by U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders when they gathered Sunday at the NATO summit in Chicago, CNN reports.Against a backdrop of massive protests – and a foiled, homegrown terror plot that targeted Obama and others – the summit opened on Sunday at 1.30 pm local time ( 9.30 pm Bucharest time) with NATO countries trying to figure out how to meet a 2014 withdrawal from an unpopular war while shoring up Afghanistan’s security forces. Security was very tight at the summit following the arrest of three men, described by authorities as anarchists who plotted to attack Obama’s Chicago campaign headquarters and lob Molotov cocktails at police during the summit. Police insist there are no imminent threats to the leaders of more than 50 nations gathering at the summit.The leaders are expected to formally adopt a timetable to transition security from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force to Afghan forcesOne of the key issues to be considered by the NATO leaders is who will pay for the buildup of Afghan forces as ISAF draws down its troops. Afghan security forces are expected to total 350,000 by 2015, according to CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who is attending the summit along with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, can only afford to cover a fraction of the cost of building up his country’s forces. The cost of building up forces is expected to total roughly USD 4 billion annually by 2014, Bergen said.France’s new president, Francois Hollande, is widely expected to announce the withdrawal of French troops from Afghanistan by year’s end. Also, at issue at the NATO summit, is Islamabad’s continued blockade of much-needed NATO supplies shipped over Pakistani roads to Afghanistan.Pakistan closed the ground routes after a NATO airstrike in November killed two dozen of its soldiers. NATO insists the incident was an accident.The United States and NATO are unlikely to reach an agreement with Pakistan at the summit, according to two senior U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the subject.

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