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NATO Summit 'Extremely Productive,' a Satisfied Obama Says

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The Obama team on the ground at the NATO Summit in Portugal is flying home pleased. It has been, the president declared, "an extremely productive two days" in Lisbon.
Indeed major goals for the future of Afghanistan and the relationship with Russia have been met. For the former, there will be an ongoing, integrated relationship, a continued flow of aid, assistance, and training. For the latter, Russia, there's been a "restart" of relations, on ice for the last two years. Europeans and Americans hope that the chilly period between the U.S. and Russia has ended and will be significantly warmer going forward.
President Obama at the NATO Summit in Lisbon, PortugalAs the White House hoped, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) announced Saturday its continued commitment to Afghanistan and affirmed the timetable for an "irreversible" transition to "full Afghan security responsibility and leadership" beginning in 2014. The plan has -- as Obama had pushed to achieve -- a leadership training component and relationship with NATO forces continuing beyond 2014. The continued commitment of troops on the ground, in any capacity, is seen as a tricky sell: European countries are wearying of losing soldiers in a fight where they no longer understand the rationale for their participation.
"We reaffirm our enduring commitment to Afghanistan's security and stability, which are directly linked with our own security," a joint statement issued by the ISAF declared. "We remain resolute in supporting Afghanistan as its security institutions take on increasing responsibility. Today we recognize the progress that has enabled this evolution toward transition and durable partnership, while we continue our efforts to counter those who aim to destabilize Afghanistan. Our UN-mandated mission in Afghanistan, which is at the request of the Afghan Government remains the Alliance's key priority. It is helping to lay the foundations for long-term security, stability and prosperity in an Afghanistan respectful of human rights, that will never again become a safe haven for terrorists and terrorism."
But Afghanistan, as important as it is, was not the only thing on the agenda for the 28 heads of state from NATO countries. Visiting Lisbon also was Russian President Dmitiri Medvedev, whose presence was highly anticipated. It was the first time the Russians have met with NATO (a relationship officially called the "NATO-Russia Council" or NRC) since the violence in Georgia during the summer of 2008.
The results, at least publicly, were positive. "We, the Heads of State and Government of the NATO-Russia Council, met today in Lisbon and affirmed that we have embarked on a new stage of cooperation towards a true strategic partne
rship," the NRC announced this morning.
President Obama knows that back home he still has to deal with Republican resistance to the new START treaty: its ratification was listed in the official statement as an essential component in the revitalized partnership. The president said he was pleased with progress toward a joint missile defense shield to protect both Europe and Russia, saying that the countries had successfully turned a "source of past tension into a source of shared cooperation."
For Washington and Europe the conversation with Medvev needed to be both substantive and courtly. "The time has clearly come to modernize our relationship and build a true partnership," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said at the opening of the NATO-Russia meetings. Noting that the conversation was the first time a joint effort would be made between Russia and Europe to protect against missile attacks, Rasmussen said "We are laying the foundation for stronger ties" between NATO and Russia "than has ever been the case until now. This is why today marks a true fresh start in NATO-Russian relations."
The scene now shifts to U.S. domestic politics and the lame duck session of Congress. A news conference by the foreign ministers of Denmark, Lithuania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Norway, and Latvia urged the United States to recognize that approving the new START has a lot to do with people on the other side of the world. "If the START treaty is not ratified, it would be a real setback for European security, and therefore, of course, we urge and hope that the U.S. Congress will be able to ratify the START treaty as soon as possible," said Lene Espersen, the Danish Foreign Minister. Added Janos Martonyi, the Hungarian foreign minister. "It's a general interest of my region, of Europe, and indeed, most importantly, of the transatlantic alliance. It's also a global interest, and I would very much encourage, for this reason, not to kill START before it starts."
It's not clear that such appeals will be heard by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), among others, who have declared the START treaty a no-go for the last weeks of this Senate session, despite appeals from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and, it might be said, many in the rest of the world.

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16 Comments

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Mikey

...NATO Summit 'Extremely Productive'. ~ I wonder if even the Democrats believe him...

November 21 2010 at 4:53 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mikey's comment
jancf

You don't have to take his word for it. You can actually access the facts from primary sources. Better than deciding ahead of time you're going to cal someone a liar no matter what.

November 21 2010 at 11:13 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
pianomanref

Extremely productive.....a "continued flow of aid" to Afghanistan. The money drain goes on and on. We are broke and the annointed one promises the world there is more to come. This joke for a president lives in a bubble world.

November 21 2010 at 2:28 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Mingo

How much did it cost????

November 21 2010 at 1:10 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
Barry Whipple

By "extremely productive" he means that he is clueless to what just happened, just like the rest of his residency as occupant of the w.h. How did America ever come to this point?

November 21 2010 at 7:31 AM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
John Vilvens

Most nato countries want out of Afghanistan, Russia is happy that they got over on Obama on the start treaty. Russia is supporting Iran nuclear goals. All other nation do not like the idea america is devaluing the dollar by printing 600 billion dollars. Obama has to be stop with his agenda to run america down. If he is not proud to be an american resign. When he talk he should start each and ever speech ONCE UPON A TIME

November 21 2010 at 7:14 AM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
ebneila

The Republicans should be ashamed of thier stated agenda, only working to reject the president's policies, then blame him for the failures. They want to dismantle the health care bill even though the Republican Congress benefits from much the same system. Conservatives have become the worst impediment to the nations recovery than any foreign enemy. They would rather spend billions on un-needed weapons than backing a National Health Care plan that even the medical and insurance industries back.

November 21 2010 at 6:32 AM Report abuse -10 rate up rate down Reply
rrc82947

Good job president Obama!

November 21 2010 at 6:00 AM Report abuse -11 rate up rate down Reply
eyeforeye42

People wonder what meetings like this cost. If the cost of the cold war is an indicator of what it cost to not meet, then world leaders meetings are really really cheap. Even if it cost the US $10 million or $100 million including promises and deals, just the deal with Russia to allow us to enter Afghanistan from their space instead of Pakistan will save us tons of money. Avoiding a trade war saves us big bucks too. Who pays for those wars? You and me!

November 21 2010 at 4:39 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
Bill

How much more of America did Obama sell out behind closed doors? Congress, do not rush this bill through just to make the annointed-one look great. This is the country's defence we are talking about. The fine line between our freedom and our demise. Third world countries push for us to cut down on our defenses while they stockpile. Take away the threat and be conquered by the enemy. Obama is a weak President on Military issues and the rest of the world knows that.

November 21 2010 at 3:19 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Bill's comment
jnaylor284

I'm am sure the U.S. gave up alot at this summit, as well as lots of American dollars.

November 21 2010 at 4:52 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
cobalt0895

Are we going to have this same shield for the U.S.? Here we go again spending our tax dollars in Europe,the mid east and other nations that we have give our tax dollars to systematically. What makes us believe the Russians will not make an alliance with Iran, who would also love to provoke Iran in to starting something with us. So they can, like buzzards, fly-in and pick our bones.

November 21 2010 at 2:38 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

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