Obama to urge Afghan president Karzai to push for Taliban settlement
Barack Obama is to use the Nato summit to press the Afghan leader Hamid Karzai to engage with greater urgency with the Taliban about a political settlement in Afghanistan.
The US president flew to Chicago on Saturday night after 24 hours of negotiations with the leaders of the G8, dominated by the eurozone crisis but which also included talks on issues including Afghanistan.
With US allies pressing for a speedy exit from a war their countries have become weary of, Obama is to discuss with Karzai and Nato allies a timetable that will see Afghan forces taking over combat duties from the US and its allies by the middle of next year.
Almost all international forces are scheduled to be out by the end of 2014 after completion of the Afghanistan elections. Karzai will not be standing in that election.
The Obama administration had hoped Chicago would be the venue for a major announcement of a political settlement with the Taliban. But these hopes crumbled when the Taliban walked away from reconciliation talks in March.
Afghanistan's Taliban have sent a message to NATO leaders at a major summit in Chicago, calling the "war on terror" an excuse for colonisation and urging them to follow the French lead and get out.
A statement on the Taliban website, Voice of Jihad, says no Afghans were involved in Al-Qaeda's 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington that prompted a US-led invasion of Afghanistan.
The statement fails to mention that the invasion in late 2001 followed a refusal by the hardline Islamists, who were then in power, to hand over Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was based in the country...