WASHINGTON--Defense Sec. Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton are at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium for meetings to prepare for the Chicago NATO Summit.
This is the last major gathering of NATO and ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) before the May 20-21 NATO Summit at McCormick Place.
"We are just one month away from our Chicago summit. So this is the time to make sure our preparations are on track as we enter the final stretch," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said at the start of the series of ministerial meetings. (Click below for NATO release on two-day meeting.)
More from NATO on the defense package to be discussed at the Chicago Summit:
"NATO has already done substantial work on developing the Alliance's capabilities in areas such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. At the forthcoming NATO Summit in Chicago on 20-21 May, heads of state and government will lay the foundations for the Alliance's future forces to 2020.
"In Chicago, we will take the next steps, by approving a specific set of commitments and measures, and embracing the new approach we call Smart Defence," said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
"The Smart Defence concept encourages nations to maximise the efficiency of their defence spending by focusing on greater prioritisation, specialisation and multinational cooperation in their acquisition of modern equipment.
"Leaders at the Chicago Summit are expected to approve a package of defence measures which includes specific multinational projects and a strong commitment to making Smart Defence the new way the Alliance does business. It will also include measures to sustain and increase the links between the armed forces of different NATO nations.
"In Chicago, we will adopt a series of measures in the fields of education and training, exercises and technology, to make sure that our forces maintain the strong connections they have developed during our operations. We call it the Connected Forces Initiative," the Secretary General said.
NATO AFGHANISTAN GOAL
"NATO's firm goal is to complete the transition to full Afghan security responsibility by the end of 2014, within the timetable we all agreed. And NATO's firm intention is to continue supporting Afghanistan after 2014. Because our partnership with the Afghan people is for the long term."