National Security correspondent, Washington DC
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May 20, 2012

NATO leaders seek common path out of Afghanistan

CHICAGO (Reuters) – NATO leaders gather in Chicago on Sunday for a summit that will chart a path out of Afghanistan, as Western nations seek to fend off fissures in their alliance and ensure Afghanistan can hold a still-potent Taliban at bay when foreign troops withdraw.

President Barack Obama hosts the summit in his home town, Chicago, a day after leaders of major industrialized nations tackled Europe’s debt crisis, backing keeping Greece in the euro zone and vowing to take steps necessary to revitalize the world economy.

May 20, 2012

Pakistani leader may face friction over supply routes at NATO summit

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari arrived in Chicago on Saturday for a NATO summit to what could be a chilly reception if a hoped-for deal allowing trucks to again supply alliance troops in Afghanistan fails to materialize.

While Western officials sought to portray Zardari’s presence as a sign of improving NATO-Pakistan ties, possible friction at the meeting underscores the challenges NATO countries face as they struggle to ensure a stable future for Afghanistan after Western troops withdraw.

May 18, 2012

Afghanistan fundraising goal elusive before NATO summit

WASHINGTON, May 18 (Reuters) – Just days before this
weekend’s NATO summit, the United States remains short of its
goal of raising $1.3 billion in security funds from its partners
in Afghanistan, after a money-raising blitz failed to garner
immediate contributions from allies facing fiscal and political
pressures.

Who will pay for Afghanistan’s future security will be
central when President Barack Obama hosts leaders from NATO and
other nations in his hometown of Chicago for the two-day summit
starting on Sunday that will outline the Western path out of the
long war.

May 18, 2012

Hopes fading for swift U.S., Pakistan deal on Afghan supply routes

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The Obama administration may be not be able to strike a long-awaited agreement with Pakistan to help supply Western soldiers in Afghanistan as hoped in time for a major NATO summit in Chicago this weekend, a U.S. official said.

“There’s a distinct possibility that we may not see an agreement before the end of this weekend,” the U.S. official said on condition of anonymity. “But talks are progressing and we do expect to reach a deal in the near future.”

May 18, 2012

Afghanistan fundraising goal eludes as US heads to NATO summit

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – On the eve of this weekend’s NATO summit, the United States remains short of its goal of raising $1.3 billion in security funds from its partners in Afghanistan, after a money-raising blitz failed to garner immediate contributions from allies coping with fiscal and political pressures.

Who will pay for Afghanistan’s future security will be central when President Barack Obama hosts leaders from NATO and other nations in his hometown of Chicago for the May 20-21 summit that will outline the Western path out of the long war.

May 16, 2012

U.S. path out of Afghanistan faces risks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In the rugged mountains of eastern Afghanistan, where the United States has already trimmed its forces ahead of the coming NATO withdrawal, a modest number of al Qaeda fighters have re-established operations, U.S. officials say, a worrying sign of the risks that could jeopardize Western hopes of a smooth exit.

Current and former U.S. officials say the fighters, believed to be mostly Arabs and Pakistanis who number less than 100, have crept back across the porous border with Pakistan to Kunar and Nuristan provinces. That is where a consolidation of NATO bases has left a force of just 4,200 Western soldiers – and a limited ability to conduct on-the-ground intelligence and security operations.

May 16, 2012

U.S.-Pakistan near deal on reopening supply lines

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In what would be a major breakthrough, Pakistan and the United States appeared on Tuesday to be on the verge of clinching an agreement to reopen ground supply lines into Afghanistan, a U.S. official said, as Pakistan confirmed its president will attend a summit of NATO leaders this weekend in Chicago.

Ties between the United States and Pakistan have been severely strained over the past year, fuelling speculation Islamabad might be excluded from the high-level NATO talks on Afghanistan’s future because of the failure to reach an agreement on the supply lines, which have been shut for months.

May 9, 2012

Family pleads for U.S. prisoner at heart of Afghan peace push

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The family of Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier held prisoner by the Taliban since 2009, says it is frustrated that more than a year of covert diplomacy has been unable to free their son and is urging the Obama administration to push harder for his release.

Bob Bergdahl, speaking out about his son’s case after a long silence, said he hopes U.S. negotiators will press ahead with efforts to set in motion a chain of events intended in part to lead to the release of his son, believed to be held in Pakistan since he went missing in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009.

May 7, 2012

U.S. envoy to Pakistan to depart this summer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. ambassador to Islamabad, Cameron Munter, plans to step down this summer, and the Obama administration, hoping to improve dismal ties with Pakistan at a crucial time for its war in neighboring Afghanistan, is considering a senior official at its Kabul embassy to replace him.

The White House is focusing on Richard Olson, who has orchestrated U.S. development and economic activities in Afghanistan since June 2011, to succeed Munter when he departs in coming months, sources familiar with the discussions said.

May 4, 2012

U.S. doesn’t expect Pakistan to reopen Afghan war supply routes soon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As the Taliban kicks off its spring fighting season in Afghanistan, an agreement with Pakistan that would help NATO supply its troops there could be weeks or months away, forcing military leaders to spend two-and-a-half times as much to ship some supplies through Central Asia.

The Obama administration remains locked in negotiations with Pakistan to reopen the key supply routes into Afghanistan, and officials do not expect talks bogged down over proposed tariffs and U.S. military assistance to reach resolution anytime soon.

    • About Missy

      "Prior to heading the Mexico bureau, Missy was deputy bureau chief in Baghdad. She has also covered commodities in Washington, DC and worked in Peru, Argentina and Egypt for Reuters."
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