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.
Instead, Obama is having to focus on trying to keep the international force together until the end of 2014, with some countries already preparing to leave early, in particular France, which has said it will remove combat troops by the end of this year.
After the pullout in two years time, a Nato force will be left behind, in part to help with training….
And to serve as target practice for Afghan troops.