Uncertainty over security clouds NATO talks on Afghanistan
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, prior to the NATO Foreign Affairs Ministers meeting held at the organisation's headquarters in Brussels, on December 3, 2013.
December 3rd, 2013
01:02 PM ET

Uncertainty over security clouds NATO talks on Afghanistan

By Elise Labott

NATO warned it may be forced to withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year if President Hamid Karzai doesn't sign a security agreement with the United States.

Reached last month, the pact lays out the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after 2014, when the NATO-led force of some 80,000 troops is scheduled to leave.

Although the agreement was endorsed by the Afghan council of tribal leaders, called the Loya Jirga, Karzai said he won't sign it until after elections in April.

Uncertainty over the agreement is causing mounting anxiety among diplomats here, where Afghanistan is dominating talks among NATO ministers, including Secretary of State John Kerry.
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Hillary Clinton: NATO risks sliding into "military irrelevance"
May 2nd, 2013
02:02 AM ET

Hillary Clinton: NATO risks sliding into "military irrelevance"

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.

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Filed under: Hillary Clinton • NATO • Rasmussen
Turkey asks NATO to deploy Patriot missiles, citing threats from Syria crisis
Patriot missile being launched
November 21st, 2012
02:07 PM ET

Turkey asks NATO to deploy Patriot missiles, citing threats from Syria crisis

From Ivan Watson

In a potential escalation of the Syrian conflict, Turkey asked NATO on Wednesday for Patriot missiles to bolster its air defenses against its southern neighbor.

A letter to NATO included the "formal request" that the alliance send "air defense elements," according to a Turkish government statement that cited "the threats and risks posed by the continuing crisis in Syria to our national security."

The statement added that the NATO Council would convene "shortly" to consider the matter.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a Twitter post that the request would be considered without delay.

In a statement on Wednesday, Rasmussen said the letter from Turkey requested Patriot missiles that would "contribute to the de-escalation of the crisis along NATO's south-eastern border" and serve as "a concrete demonstration of alliance solidarity and resolve."

Rasmussen's statement said three NATO countries have available Patriot missiles - Germany, the Netherlands and the United States - and it would be up to them to decide if they can deploy them and for how long.
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Filed under: NATO • Rasmussen • Syria • Turkey • weapons
U.S. and NATO secure exit route from Afghanistan
June 4th, 2012
06:09 PM ET

U.S. and NATO secure exit route from Afghanistan

By Mike Mount

U.S. and NATO equipment will have a guaranteed route out of Afghanistan after an agreement with Central Asian countries allowing the alliance to completely cut out the shorter Pakistani access routes NATO has used for years.

In a Monday press conference in Brussels, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters that a deal had been struck between Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan to allow the alliance's equipment to be moved through their territories.  A deal already set with Russia will allow the equipment to be moved directly though land into Europe, and to air bases to fly the U.S. equipment home.

Pentagon officials said talks with the Pakistanis on opening the ground routes through Pakistan to the southern port of Karachi are still ongoing, but have yet to produce an agreement to re-open the routes, known as Ground Lines of Communication or (GLOC). FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • ISAF • Military • NATO • Pakistan • Rasmussen
Afghanistan exit strategy agreed on, Pakistan issue unresolved
May 21st, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Afghanistan exit strategy agreed on, Pakistan issue unresolved

Editor's note: Read all of Security Clearance's coverage of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.  Follow our reporting and other key NATO tweets with our NATO summit Twitter list.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday that he expects a deal "in the very near future" to reopen Pakistan's border with Afghanistan for war supply shipments.

"So far, the closure of the transit routes has not had a major impact on our operations," Rasmussen said, but added the transit routes were very important and that he expected their reopening "in the very near future."

Recommended: NATO accepts Obama timetable to end war

But the issue was unresolved even as NATO leaders signed off Monday on President Barack Obama's exit strategy from Afghanistan that calls for an end to combat operations next year and the withdrawal of the U.S.-led international military force by the end of 2014.

Pakistan's president Asif Ali Zardari was surely feeling some pressure.   Even a normally bland NATO document took note of thanking Central Asian countries and Russia for aiding in transporting supplies, while urging Pakistan to "reopen the ground lines of communication as soon as possible." FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • Chicago NATO summit 2012 • Diplomacy • NATO • Pakistan • Rasmussen
NATO countries pledge most of the money needed for Afghan forces
May 21st, 2012
10:24 AM ET

NATO countries pledge most of the money needed for Afghan forces

Editor's note: Read all of Security Clearance's coverage of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.  Follow our reporting and other key NATO tweets with our NATO summit Twitter list.

By Elise Labott

NATO has raised more than $1 billion toward the $4.3 annual cost needed to fund the Afghan National Security Forces after 2014, two senior U.S. officials tell Security Clearance.

"But we're over $1 billion, heading for the $1.3 goal, earlier than we dared hope," one of the officials said.

NATO was asked to come up with $1.3 billion in annual costs, with Afghanistan paying $500 million and the U.S. paying the rest.

More announcements are expected by NATO allies and members of the ISAF coalition at Monday's session on Afghanistan.

The current target for the Afghan force is around 352,000 army and police. After 2014 that number is expected to dip to about 250,000.

Interim missile defense shield now in place to protect Europe, NATO chief says
Missile interceptors will be loaded on a U.S. warship in the Mediterranean, as part of the NATO plan.
May 21st, 2012
04:29 AM ET

Interim missile defense shield now in place to protect Europe, NATO chief says

Editor's note: Read all of Security Clearance's coverage of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.  Follow our reporting and other key NATO tweets with our NATO summit Twitter list.

By the CNN Wire Staff

NATO's chief says the alliance now has interim ballistic missile defense capability in Europe, a move that is likely to further heighten tensions with Russia over its objection to a missile defense shield.

"It is the first step towards our long-term goal of providing full coverage and protection for all NATO European populations, territory and forces," Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters Sunday, the first day of a two-day NATO summit in Chicago.

Among the so-called interim capabilities are missile interceptors loaded on a U.S. ship in the Mediterranean, the first of four anticipated warships with the defense system, Rasmussen said. A defense radar is also operational in Turkey, he said.

NATO has asked Russia to participate in the system but negotiations have been deadlocked over Russia's demand for a legally binding treaty guaranteeing the shield would not be used as a deterrent to Moscow's own systems.

Read the full CNN.com story here.

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Filed under: Chicago NATO summit 2012 • Europe • NATO • Rasmussen
May 20th, 2012
02:17 PM ET

Rasmussen: NATO must operate abroad to defend interests

Editor's note: Read all of Security Clearance's coverage of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.  Follow our reporting and other key NATO tweets with our NATO summit Twitter list.

NATO must be willing to be involved in conflict away from the immediate geography of the member nations, the group's secretary general told CNN's Candy Crowley on Sunday.

Rasmussen was responding to a Security Clearance article by CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter Elise Labott which reported that the decade-long NATO involvement in Afghanistan has produced what some have described as collective fatigue among European allies and questions about whether NATO should be involved in conflicts outside of Europe's backyard.

"In today's world all allies realize that territorial defense of our populations and our countries may very well start beyond our borders," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen responded in an interview that aired on CNN's State of the Union.

Recommended: U.S., Pakistan fail to reach deal on supply routes ahead of NATO meetings

In regards to Afghanistan, Rasmussen said NATO members are starting to pledge the money needed to support Afghanistan, an issue that the U.S. is raising with other countries.  Rasmussen described himself as "optimistic" the necessary funds to support Afghanistan's forces will be achieved. FULL POST

May 15th, 2012
12:53 PM ET

NATO invites Pakistan to Chicago summit

Editor's note: Read all of Security Clearance's coverage of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago

With reporting from Elise Labott

NATO has invited Pakistani President Asif Zardari to join the Afghanistan summit in Chicago this week, even as the Afghan neighbor continues to weigh whether to re-open its border crossings for war supplies.

Farhatullah Babar, a presidential spokesman, confirmed the invitation Tuesday, saying it was unconditional and was not linked to the opening of ground lines of communication for NATO or to any other issue. He said Zardari would consider the invitation in light of guidelines from Pakistan's parliament and the advice of the government.

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The president said a decision about the invitation will be communicated to NATO later.

The invitation comes just days after NATO Secretary General Fogh Rasmussen suggested that the neighbor of Afghanistan would not be included because of the continued closure of Pakistan's border with Afghanistan to war supplies. FULL POST

NATO, Russia square off over missile defense
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Brussels
December 8th, 2011
10:19 AM ET

NATO, Russia square off over missile defense

By CNN's Elise Labott

NATO and Russia remained at odds over the alliance's plans for a missile defense system in Europe after a foreign ministers meeting in Brussels Thursday.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said "differences remain" over the plans, but he rejected Russia's complaints that NATO was ignoring Moscow's concerns the missile defense system could be used against it.

"We listen and we have listened today," Rasmussen said after a meeting of NATO's 28 foreign ministers with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. "We take Russian concerns seriously."

Rasmussen's tone was softer than his comments Wednesday, when he said Russia's threats to withdraw from the START treaty and deploy ballistic missiles on its southern border to counter the missile shield were reminiscent of a confrontation of a bygone era and reflect a "fundamental misunderstanding of the West's intentions."

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