Afghanistan In Lisbon. NATO Debates A New Strategy. : The Two-Way President Obama and other alliance leaders will discuss a new strategy to transition responsibility to Afghan forces by 2014.
NPR logo Afghanistan In Lisbon. NATO Debates A New Strategy.

Afghanistan In Lisbon. NATO Debates A New Strategy.

US President Barack Obama during his arrival in Lisbon, Portugal, Friday, Nov. 19, 2010.  Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP hide caption

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

President Obama is in Lisbon for the NATO summit. They are going to discuss a number of issues, but the big one, of course, will be Afghanistan.

The plan they are going to present will focus on transitioning responsibility to Afghan security forces over the next few years, with 2014 set as the end point. But as NPR’s Rachel Martin reported this morning from Afghanistan, the end doesn’t really mean the end.

"The only two dates we have really got is 2011 as a starting point, if you wish, and 2014 as the end," says German Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, spokesman for NATO forces in Afghanistan.


"Beyond 2014 there will most probably still be military provided by the international community in this country, but less in a fighting, in a combat role, but more of a mentoring and training nature," Blotz says.

NPR’s Steve Inskeep talked to NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen about that transition. There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks of talks with some Taliban forces. But he says there is “no alternative to continuing determined military operations.” Rasmussen stressed that the process need to be Afghan led, but that NATO forces need to give the Afghan government the ability to negotiate from a position of strength, and that requires success on the battlefield. When pressed on what a negotiated settlement would look like, Rasmussen was vague, but he did say there were basic principles that have to be adhered to. Groups would have to put down their weapons, obey the Afghan constitution and respect human rights, including the rights of women.

Another issue at the summit will be missile defense, with Russian President Dimitry Medvedev talking with alliance leaders about creating a missile shield for Europe.