BRUSSELS/KABUL (Reuters) – NATO will declare “mission accomplished” this week as it winds down more than a decade of operations in Afghanistan but departing combat troops look likely to leave behind political turmoil and an emboldened insurgency.
The embattled country is also suffering a sharp economic slowdown.
NATO had hoped its summit in Wales on Thursday and Friday would herald a smooth handover of security at the end of this year from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to Afghan forces. It then plans to cut back its role to a smaller mission to train and advise Afghan troops.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Afghanistan is expected to send its defense minister to a NATO summit in Wales this week, NATO officials said on Monday, after a political crisis dashed hopes that a newly-elected president could make his debut on the international stage there.
Who, if anyone, would represent Afghanistan at a summit that will discuss the country’s future had become a guessing game following the country’s disputed presidential election.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif voiced optimism after talks with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Monday that a dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program can be resolved by a Nov. 24 deadline.
“I am quite optimistic after discussions with Lady Ashton that we can in fact resolve this issue in time,” Zarif said after what he described as “good” talks with Ashton.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO leaders will respond to the Ukraine crisis by agreeing this week to create a “spearhead” rapid reaction force, potentially including several thousand troops, that could be sent to a hotspot in as little as two days, officials said on Monday.
The 28-nation alliance already has a rapid reaction force but U.S. President Barack Obama and other leaders meeting for a NATO summit in Wales on Thursday and Friday are expected to create a new force that would be able to respond more quickly to a crisis.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Monday that Ukraine’s political leaders expect a new parliament to abandon the country’s non-aligned status after an election next month in a possible prelude to an application to join NATO.
Ukraine said on Friday it would seek the protection of NATO membership after what Kiev and its Western allies say is the open participation of the Russian military in the war in Ukraine’s eastern provinces.
KIEV/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Ukraine said Russian tanks had flattened a small border town and pro-Russian rebels had made fresh gains in its east, as EU leaders signaled on Saturday they would threaten more sanctions against Moscow over the crisis.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, attending an EU summit in Brussels, said he was hoping for a political solution, but warned that his country was on the brink of full-scale war.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union leaders on Saturday chose Poland Prime Minister Donald Tusk to chair their Council and named Italian Federica Mogherini to run the bloc’s foreign relations, as the EU prepared to threaten Russia with new sanctions over Ukraine.
A summit in Brussels shared the two coveted EU posts between a Kremlin critic from ex-communist Eastern Europe and the foreign minister of one of Moscow’s biggest customers for gas. EU officials gave Ukraine’s embattled President Petro Poroshenko a warm welcome and assurances of further support.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – British Prime Minister David Cameron said he was “delighted” with a promise from Polish premier Donald Tusk, newly elected to a top European Union post, to address his demands for reforming the EU to keep Britain in the bloc.
Two months after suffering a severe and very public setback when he failed to block the appointment of another EU leader whom he judged hostile to his reform drive, Cameron was upbeat about the choice of the Polish center-right leader as head of the European Council, the body representing the 28 EU governments.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, fresh from being chosen as part of the European Union’s new leadership team, held out an olive branch to Britain on Saturday, saying he was prepared to compromise on British concerns to keep the country in the EU.
Prime Minister David Cameron had publicly thrown his support behind Tusk this week to be the new head of the EU Council, representing the bloc’s 28 governments, in hopes that the center-right Polish leader would help him push through reforms to the EU, which he sees as too centralized and bureaucratic.
KIEV/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Ukraine said on Saturday Russian tanks had flattened a small border town and pro-Russian rebels had made fresh gains in its east, as EU leaders signalled they were ready to prepare more sanctions on Moscow over the crisis.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, speaking ahead of an EU summit in Brussels, said he was still holding out hope for a political solution but told journalists there were now thousands of foreign troops and hundreds of foreign tanks in his country.