Leaders arrive for day two of NATO meetings

Reuters

by Reuters

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)

STORY: NATO leaders arrived at McCormick Place in Chicago on Monday (May 21) for the second and final day of meetings.

The 28-nation NATO alliance is expected to endorse plans for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force to hand over command of all combat missions to Afghan forces by the middle of 2013, and for the withdrawal of most of the 130,000 NATO troops by the end of 2014.

The strategy for a gradual exit from Afghanistan is aimed at holding together the multinational force and maintaining security despite France's decision to withdraw its troops earlier than scheduled.

NATO diplomats said their work has moved to the logistical challenge of getting the large multinational army out of the Afghan mountains and deserts and back home - safely and with their equipment.

They said the aim was to sign a framework agreement with Afghanistan's northern neighbor, Uzbekistan, to allow "reverse transit" of NATO supplies from Afghanistan.

NATO has also been trying to persuade Pakistan to reopen its territory to NATO supplies, which Islamabad has blocked since the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a cross-border incident last year.

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