G8 Summit: World Leaders Examine Afghanistan War, Back Greece

On a summit in Chicago NATO leaders back keeping Greece in the euro zone and chart a path out of Afghanistan.

Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, President Barack Obama, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, and others watch the overtime shootout of the Chelsea vs. Bayern Munich Champions League final, in the Laurel Cabin conference room during the G8 Summit at Camp David, Md., May 19, 2012. Photo: Pete Souza/The Official White House

A summit of the G8 leading industrialized nations in Barack Obama’s home town, Chicago came down solidly in favor of a push to balance European austerity with a new dose of U.S.-style stimulus seen as vital to healing ailing euro-zone economies, reports Reuters.

“We commit to take all necessary steps to strengthen and reinvigorate our economies and combat financial stresses, recognizing that the right measures are not the same for each of us,” the NATO leaders said in a joint statement.

G8 leaders sought to calm the situation with Greece’s political and economic upheaval high on the summit’s agenda and stoking concerns over instability in Spain and Italy.

The leaders said in the statement: “We reaffirm our interest in Greece remaining in the euro zone while respecting its commitments.” But they offered no specific prescription for extracting Athens from its worsening crisis.

U.S. president Barack Obama, who has pressed Europe for more growth-boosting measures like those he pursued at home, used his closing statement to remind euro-zone leaders that the stakes were high and there could be “enormous” costs if they failed.

“Growth and jobs must be our top priority,” Obama said, reaffirming that Europe has the capacity to meet the challenge.

This month Greek voters toppled a government that had agreed to painfully austere terms of an international bailout plan, and uncertainty hangs over the next election set for June 17.

On Sunday world leaders will proceed to the talks on Afghanistan, an unwelcome weight on countries mindful of dwindling support for a costly campaign that has not defeated the Taliban in more than 10 years.

The Huff Post writes that with none of the NATO countries having enough courage to pursue the war in Afghanistan much longer, the only viable option is to leave behind an Afghan army and police force capable of defending the country against the Taliban and its allies after the NATO combat mission is declared over at the end of 2014 and most of the coalition troops leave.

Francois Hollande, France’s new president, repeated a pledge during his inaugural visit to Washington last week to pull “combat troops” from Afghanistan this year. Hollande has said an extremely limited number of soldiers would remain to train Afghan forces and bring back equipment beyond 2012.

“This decision is an act of sovereignty and must be done in good coordination with our allies and partners,” said Hollande.

The Obama administration is expected to emphasize a common alliance vision for gradually pulling most of the NATO force of around 130,000 by the end of 2014, tells Reuters. It will also highlight Afghanistan’s strides toward taking charge of its own security.

Support for the war has decreased in Europe and hit a new low in America. Only 27 percent of Americans say they back the effort while 66 percent oppose the war, according to an AP-GfK poll released earlier this month.

Alliance leaders may use the same approach in discussions of long-term funding for Afghan police and army, whose ability to battle the Taliban is at the core of NATO strategy for exiting Afghanistan smoothly.

The challenge facing Obama and other world leaders will be to convince their own voters that Afghanistan is worth the investment.

Share this article

We welcome comments that advance the story directly or with relevant tangential information. We try to block comments that use offensive language, all capital letters or appear to be spam, and we review comments frequently to ensure they meet our standards. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Coinspeaker Ltd.