By CNN's Mary Grace Lucas
A NATO alliance where member nations are hamstrung by political and economic difficulties may be a militarily weakened one, former Secy. of State Hillary Clinton warned Wednesday night.
"NATO is turning into a two-tiered alliance with shrinking percentage of members willing – and able – to pay the price and bear the burdens of common defense," Clinton said. "Even in these difficult economic times, we cannot afford to let the greatest alliance in history slide into military irrelevance."
Clinton was speaking at an annual Atlantic Council awards dinner in Washington where both she and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen were honored with Distinguished Leadership awards.
Clinton praised Rasmussen roundly for his work. But she didn’t shy away from the idea that NATO nations needed to think ahead about a more evenly-shared responsibility when it comes to security and readiness.
By Ed Payne, CNN
Reaction to North Korea's nuclear test - its third since 2006 - poured in Tuesday from around the world:
Barack Obama, U.S. president:
"This is a highly provocative act that ... undermines regional stability, violates North Korea's obligations under numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions, contravenes its commitments under the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, and increases the risk of proliferation.
North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs constitute a threat to U.S. national security and to international peace and security. The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and steadfast in our defense commitments to allies in the region."
"The danger posed by North Korea's threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community. The United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies."FULL STORY
By Chelsea J. Carter and Aliza Kassim
U.S. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford took command Sunday of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, where he will oversee the final two years of the war and the withdrawal of nearly all troops.
"Today is not about change, it's about continuity," Dunford said at a change-of-command ceremony in Kabul attended by his predecessor Marine Gen. John Allen and other senior NATO and Afghan officials.
"I'll endeavor to continue the momentum of the campaign and support the people of Afghanistan as they seize the opportunity for a brighter future."
Dunford replaces Allen, whose final days as ISAF commander were marred by an investigation linked to the scandal that led to the resignation of his predecessor David Petreaus as the director of the CIA.FULL STORY
By Melissa Gray and Greg Botelho
The first of six Patriot missile batteries intended to protect Turkey from Syrian threats is operational along the countries' shared border, NATO said Saturday.
The other five batteries, which NATO says are to be for defensive purposes only, are expected to be in place in coming days.
NATO foreign ministers decided in December to deploy the batteries after Syria launched Scud missiles near the Turkish border. In October, errant Syrian artillery shells hit the Turkish border town of Akcakale.FULL STORY
By Mike Mount
The Obama administration's plan to solidify the number of U.S. troops that will be left in Afghanistan after the NATO-led operations end in 2014 should come into greater focus this week as Afghan President Hamid Karzai visits Washington.
With conversations scheduled at the State Department on Wednesday, the Pentagon on Thursday and the White House on Friday, Karzai should get a better sense of how the United States plans to maintain the relationship with his nation in the future.
At the Pentagon, Karzai will be briefed on the plans to keep thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to fight insurgents and to continue to train Afghan Security Forces.
But that plan hinges on what Karzai may want from the United States, according to Defense officials. It's no secret that Karzai wants total Afghan control of detention operations, meaning all Afghans being held by the United States and NATO allies would be turned over to Afghan authorities immediately.
By Masoud Popalzai
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) - The female police officer who killed a U.S. contractor in Kabul on Monday is an Iranian national, an Afghan government official said Tuesday.
Sediq Seddiqi, an Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman, said the Afghan police officer is an Iranian citizen who met her Afghan husband in Iran. After they eventually went to live in Afghanistan, he managed to help her illegally obtain Afghan citizenship.
The United States has long been concerned about Iranian terror-related activity against U.S. targets. But Seddiqi said he doesn't have evidence to link the attacker to militant groups carrying out acts of terror. She was arrested and was questioned, he said.FULL STORY
The United States is to deploy 400 troops and two Patriot air-defense missile batteries to Turkey in the coming weeks to defend against potential threats from Syria, defense officials said Friday.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed the order en route to Turkey, where he is visiting Incirlik Air Base, Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters.
Little declined to give details of where the two batteries would be located, or to specify how long the deployment would last.
"The purpose of this deployment is to signal very strongly that the United States, working closely with our NATO allies is going to support the defense of Turkey, especially with potential threats emanating from Syria," he said.
Turkey and NATO insist the Patriot missile deployment would be used only for defense.
CNN's Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.
By Jill Dougherty reporting from Brussels
A European diplomat tells CNN says NATO will decide Tuesday to approve Patriot missiles for Turkey. Turkey has asked for the air defense system as protection from Syria.
"It is a political decision," the diplomat tells CNN, "a sign of solidarity for Turkey."
A Russian official, speaking with CNN on background, claims the Patriot systems are more symbolic than militarily necessary. Echoing comments by Russian president Vladimir Putin that Syria, embroiled in a brutal civil war, has no interest in attacking Turkey.
Editor's note: CNN's Jill Dougherty is traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Europe. Dougherty filed this report from Prague.
By Jill Dougherty
A senior administration official traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Europe ruled out any discussion at the upcoming NATO conference of the potential use of U.S. Patriot missiles in Turkey to impose a no-fly zone over Syria.
"A no-fly zone is not on the agenda for any NATO talks this week," the official told reporters aboard Clinton's plane.
"Patriot missiles, if they're deployed, would be deployed to protect Turkish airspace," the official said. "Turkey is a NATO ally and if a plane or missile crossed into Turkish airspace, these assets would be there to defend territory and airspace."
"We have said we're always prepared to look at ways in which we can help the people of Syria," the official added. "NATO has not decided to implement the no-fly zone but that's a separate discussion."
A NATO reconnaissance team is expected to survey the Turkish-Syrian border on Tuesday to prepare for the possible deployment of Patriot anti-aircraft missile batteries along the frontier.
Turkey has turned against its former ally, asking its fellow NATO members last week for Patriot missiles to bolster its air defenses because of several Turkish deaths blamed on Syrian forces.
A delegation of Turkish and NATO officials is scheduled to begin a site survey Tuesday to determine where to deploy the batteries, the Turkish military said Monday.FULL STORY