NATO Chicago Summit 2012 LIVE: An End to Afghan War is in Sight


President Barack Obama and other world leaders are set to address a host of key economic and military issues this weekend as the United States hosts a high stakes Group of Eight (G-8) summit outside Washington D.C. and a NATO summit in Chicago.

The three-day diplomatic marathon kicked off Friday morning with remarks by Obama on the rising concern over global food security. Obama also met at the White House on Friday with new French President Francois Hollande. 

"Much of our discussion centered on the situation in the eurozone," Obama noted. "President Hollande and I agree that this is an issue of extraordinary importance not only to the people of Europe but also to the world economy."  

PolicyMic will be following the developments live. 

UPDATE: Monday 6:30 p.m. NATO Summit Ends: Obama waded into politics during his closing remarks when answering a reporter's questions about accusations that he contributed to job losses. His Republican rival, Mitt Romney, has said his business experience as the head of a succesful private equity firm makes him a better candidate for president. Obama's leadership, Romney says, has contributed to job losses. Obama said - twice - that this is "not a distraction." He says Romney's effort to play up his business experience is missing the mark with voters because that type of business focuses on profits, not people. "When you're president as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, your job is not simply to maximize profits. Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot," he said.

Monday 4:30 p.m.

Obama Speaks LIVE on the NATO summit:

Monday 1:45 p.m. NATO has signaled that it will end operations in Afghanistan in a year an a half at the latest.

Here are the big take-aways:

* NATO to pull out most troops by end of 2014

* Obama says NATO and the U.S. will "responsibly" bring war to conclusion

* France's Hollande sticks to early withdrawal plan

"Our nations and the world have a vital interest in the success of this mission," Obama told a summit session on Afghanistan. "I am confident ... that we can advance that goal today and responsibly bring this war to an end."

Monday 12 p.m. NATO: Who Pays What in NATO

The NATO budget has many facets, as do NATO operations. Here's a look at NATO's three big budget categories -- military, security and civil -- and the percentage that member countries pay for each.

A quick guide to the categories: 

- Military spending includes military operations and maintenance. 

- The civil budget primarily pays for the alliance's civilian headquarters and personnel in Brussels. 

- Security spending pays primarily for NATO infrastructure improvements.

Monday 11:15 a.m. Ocuppy NATO Demonstrators prepared Monday to launch another day of major protests in Chicago as world leaders met at the NATO summit, while commuters heading into the city found themselves navigating extra security and revised train and bus routes designed to dodge the summit zone.

According to news reports, many downtown businesses told their employees to stay home during the second and final day of the summit where world leaders are discussing the war in Afghanistan, European missile defense and other security issues because of traffic snarls and the possibility of more protests.

According to the Associated Press, the weekend's protests drew thousands and called attention to everything from foreign policy to the economy, but were mainly peaceful. The biggest conflict came late Sunday, when a group of protesters clashed with police at the end of a march.

Monday 10:35 a.m. Pakistan Gets a Chilly Reception: The two-day summit, the largest in the 63-year history of the military alliance, came as White House officials made it clear they were furious over Pakistan's continued refusal to reopen ground routes used to move fuel and other war supplies into Afghanistan, a six-month standoff that the White House had hoped to resolve before Obama arrived in Chicago.

According to the Associated Press, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of the summit Sunday. But White House officials ruled out a meeting between Obama and Zardari, and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen canceled a meeting with the Pakistani leader, citing scheduling conflicts.

Sunday 5:55 p.m. President Obama was struggling to manage key shifts in the relationships with his two South Asia counterparts on Sunday, as a deal to reopen supply lines through Pakistan to Afghanistan appeared stalled just as Mr. Obama began talks on ending the NATO alliance’s combat role in the Afghan war, reported the New York Times.

Mr. Obama remained "at loggerheads" with President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan, refusing to meet one-on-one with him even though Mr. Zardari flew to the NATO summit meeting in Chicago.

In contrast, Mr. Obama and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan met on Sunday morning to discuss how to make progress together in reconciliation talks with the Taliban.

Sunday 3:47 p.m. A hacking group affiliated with Anonymous took responsibility for temporarily crippling the Chicago Police and NATO websites today as Chicago police are working with federal authorities to investigate the attack, according to the Chicago Tribune.

However, NATO has not confirmed it was the victim of a cyber attack. and all its three sites now appear to be running as usual.

The hacking group, which called itself antis3curityops, was posted on Cyber War News, declaring: "We are in your harbor Chicago, and you will not forget us."

The attack was orchestrated using DDoS, a method in which numerous systems attack a single target website until it is forced to shut down.

Sunday 2:59 p.m. The NATO alliance that has fought for a decade in Afghanistan is helping that nation shift toward stability and peace, but there will be "hard days ahead," President Barack Obama warned Sunday as alliance leaders insisted the fighting coalition will remain effective, despite France's plans to withdraw combat troops early.

Sunday 8:43 a.m. The road map out of the war in Afghanistan is expected to be drawn up by U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders when they gather Sunday at the NATO summit in Chicago. Against a backdrop of massive protests -- and a foiled, homegrown terror plot that targeted Obama and others -- the summit will open with NATO countries trying to figure out how to meet a 2014 withdrawal from an unpopular war while shoring up Afghanistan's security forces. Security is expected to be tight at the summit following the arrest of three men, described by authorities as anarchists who plotted to attack Obama's Chicago campaign headquarters and lob Molotov cocktails at police during the summit. Police insist there are no imminent threats to the leaders of more than 50 nations gathering at the summit. The leaders are expected to formally adopt a timetable to transition security from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force to Afghan forces, senior administration officials told CNN.

Saturday 9:32 p.m. President Barack Obama is heading to the NATO summit in Chicago with some solid G8 agreements on oil markets and the global economy but little certainty that the Eurozone financial crisis or the fallout from Iranian sanctions won’t derail the fragile recovery of the American economy. Still, Obama said he was buoyed by an emerging consensus, strengthened at the G8 summit, that more needs to be done to commit resources to growing national economies while also responsibly managing debt in a way that doesn’t undercut that growth.

Saturday 6:01 p.m. As Europe's debt crisis topped the agenda of Saturday's meeting of G8 leaders in the United States, French President François Hollande was quickly winning powerful allies as he went up against Germany’s insistence on austerity. G8 leaders said Saturday it is “their imperative” to promote growth and jobs to reinvigorate the global economy, and gave their backing to Greece remaining in the euro zone. He was buoyed by the backing he received from Obama calling for a "strong growth agenda in Europe" as the two heads of state met for the first time at the White House on Friday.

Saturday 5:36 p.m. President Obama on Saturday declared Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions a “grave concern” for world leaders, as the United States and its allies signaled they were prepared to follow through with tough new economic sanctions next month. In a joint statement, the leaders said they were prepared, if necessary, to call on the International Energy Agency, which coordinates release of the world’s oil reserves.

Saturday 5:19 p.m. About 30 people came out in support of the three men arrested Wednesday on suspicion of planning to hit President Obama's campaign headquarters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's house and police stations with Molotov cocktails. The National Lawyers Guild, which is representing the men, said they were NATO protesters with equipment for making beer, not bombs, in the apartment where they were staying.

Saturday 4:14 p.m. Four out of nine NATO Summit protesters that were arrested Wednesday night have been released today with no charges filed against them. One of the activists, Darrin Annussek, a 36-year-old man from Philadelphia, says that he and the eight others were handcuffed to a bench and shackled at the ankles in an interogation room for 18 hours. They had no communication with the police and were not allowed to use a bathroom.

Saturday 3:55 p.m. The White House released President Obama's schedule for the remaining activities regarding the NATO Summit this Saturday. Later in the afternoon, the president will host the third working session with G8 Leaders. Next, he will host the fourth working session with G8 Leaders.  Afterwards, President Obama will host the fifth working session with G8 Leaders. In the evening, the President will deliver a statement. There will be pool coverage of the President’s remarks. At night, the President will depart Camp David en route Chicago, Illinois. The First Lady will travel with the President from Joint Base Andrews to Chicago. The arrival at Chicago O’Hare International Airport is open press. The president will remain overnight in Chicago.

Saturday 2:10 p.m. G8 leaders said Saturday it is their "imperative" to promote growth and jobs to reinvigorate the global economy, and gave their backing to Greece remaining in the euro zone "while respecting its commitments." G8 leaders also committed to "take all necessary steps to strengthen and reinvigorate our economies and combat financial stresses" while emphasizing the need for ailing euro zone economies to stick to fiscal responsibility, even as European citizens are showing increasing impatience with austerity measures.   

Saturday 2:05 p.m. The NATO Summit protesters charged with plotting terrorist acts in Chicago allegedly planned to attack President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home, with one defendant allegedly saying “the city doesn’t know what it’s in for” and “after NATO, the city will never be the same,” according to court documents. The alleged conspirators — ordered held on $1.5 million bond each — were described by prosecutors as anarchists who considered themselves part of the “Black Bloc” movement that has wreaked havoc at past global gatherings.

Saturday 1:18 p.m. Valerie Trierweiler pushed the frontiers of US diplomatic protocol as she took her first steps as France's new (and unmarried) first lady during the G8 and NATO summits. The domestic partner of Francois Hollande (they've been a couple since 2007) skipped a lunch Friday between the newly elected French president and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. However, she was eagerly awaited at a French embassy by 2,000 French expatriates, and at a White House lunch on Saturday for G8 spouses hosted by US First Lady Michelle Obama.

Saturday 12:30 p.m. President Obama said that G8 leaders had "very fruitful" discussions in the opening session of the Summit at Camp David. “We are unified on our approach to Iran," the president said, adding that everyone at the table agreed that Iran should be allowed to have a peaceful nuclear energy program but should not be allowed to use nuclear power for weapons." 

Saturday 11:22 a.m. Both federal and city officials have taken strong measures to avoid violent demonstrations in Chicago. Recent days have seen security personnel in battle gear stationed outside federal buildings and 700 Illinois State Troopers added to Chicago Police Department rolls. The measures are testing the relationship between new Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and advocacy organizations at the heart of the protest movement. They say Chicago has made the permitting process too difficult and is changing the rules at the last minute.

Saturday 10:01 a.m. As a suicide vehicle bomb explodes near security agencies in Damascus, Syria, killing 9 people and wounding 100 more, skepticism grows about G8 and NATO leaders' ability to curb Bashar al-Assad's deadly regime and bring peace to the battered Middle Eastern country. In the meantime, while most G8 members agree in the need for pressing both Iran and Syria, Russia has warned that military actions against either of these countries could result in "a regional nuclear war." 

Saturday 7:04 a.m. Police say three protesters at the NATO summit in Chicago have been charged with terrorism conspiracy according to allegations that they planned to make Molotov cocktails. Chicago police Lt. Kenneth Stoppa said 20-year-old Brian Church (of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), 24-year-old Jared Chase (of Keene, N.H.) and 24-year-old Brent Vincent Betterly (of Oakland Park, Mass.) were being held on charges of conspiracy to commit terrorism and will face a bond hearing later Saturday morning.  

Saturday 1:00 a.m. Several thousand demonstrators, many of them nurses, filled a plaza in the heart of downtown Chicago on Friday for the first major rally in what is expected to be a weekend of protests as Obama and foreign leaders gather in  town for a NATO summit meeting.

Saturday 12:21 a.m. G8 leaders agreed in their initial discussions at Camp David on Friday that Iran needs to disclose more about its nuclear ambitions and that it was time to focus on a political transition in Syria. They also stressed the importance of having North Korea adhere to international norms with its nuclear program or risk to face more isolation if it "continues down the path of provocation." 

Friday 11:00 p.m. Leaders of most of the G8 (U.S., France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada and Russia) met later Friday (and will meet Saturday) at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland. Debate is expected to focus on whether an economically weakened, debt-laden Europe should continue down the road of austerity trumpeted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel or focus more on economic stimulus to help the continent grow its way out of the current crisis.