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Chicago's White House clout landed city G-8, NATO meetings

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WASHINGTON--Mayor Rahm Emanuel promoted Chicago as a host city for G-8 and NATO meetings in 2012 with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Chief of Staff Bill Daley, I reported on Wednesday. I asked a senior administration official for more details on how Chicago landed the meetings and it seems Emanuel greased the deal from the get-go. Obama announced the Chicago meetings on Wednesday night, during his speech about the Afghanistan troop draw down.

Background: Obama announced last December in Lisbon the U.S. would host the next NATO summit.

From a senior administration official: "Then, over the course of the next several months, we, I think, had conversations with a range of different cities. And Chicago, as a world-class international city, clearly possesses the ability to host a successful NATO summit. I would also note that they're going to also host the G8 summit around the same time next May. The mayor of Chicago is of course a well-known figure here, and I'm sure he'll be able to do a successful job in helping to oversee some of the preparations there.

"But really it's a decision that was made over the course of the last several months. We felt it was important to explore options beyond Washington, because often you have these things in the capital city. I think what we believe is important to do is to highlight other parts of America that represent the character of our people and that can make for interesting venues. So we did know that we wanted to go outside of Washington. And, again, Chicago clearly has a great capacity to host these types of events."

I asked if other cities were in competition and the senior administration official told me, "No, it wasn't really a bidding or a competition. I think -- so it wasn't like a very wide net that was cast. I think that we -- there were a number of discussions here about places, and Chicago emerged as a very natural fit, again, given its resources, given its diversity as an international city, and of course there was interest from Chicago and Mayor Emanuel and others in hosting these events. So it just very much solidified as a good fit over the course of the last several weeks, and I think we arrived at that decision within the last month.

"And we felt it was a good opportunity to announce it in conjunction with the President's announcement today because the NATO summit will be one of the next -- if we look out into the future in Afghanistan, we have this announcement, we have the Bonn Conference in Germany in December, which will be an important opportunity to assess the political situation in Afghanistan, and then the NATO summit in May will be the next big opportunity for the alliance to come together to assess the progress that's been made since Lisbon and to discuss the next phase of transition."

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on June 23, 2011 11:23 AM.

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