London (AFP) – Britain announced Friday it will host next year's NATO summit with the leaders of the military alliance expected to focus on Afghanistan as its troops withdraw from the conflict.
It is the first time the event has been held in Britain since 1990, as the Cold War came to an end.
"I'm delighted that the UK will host the 2014 NATO summit," Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement. The date and venue has yet to be announced.
Cameron indicated that Afghanistan would be central to discussions among the 28 NATO member states, as the 87,000 NATO-led troops fighting the Taliban insurgency prepare to leave by the end of 2014.
"It will be an opportunity for leaders to recognise the contribution and the sacrifice made by our service men and women as the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) mission in Afghanistan draws to a close, and as NATO draws down its forces and looks to help Afghanistan in different ways," he said.
NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the summit would be "an opportunity to mark the conclusion of our ISAF mission at the end of next year, while opening a new chapter in NATO's engagement with Afghanistan".
Formed in 1949 as Cold War tensions with the Soviet Union soared, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is a political and military alliance whose members are committed to defend each other if one of them is attacked.
It now has 28 members in Europe and North America. The last summit was held in Chicago in 2012, and before that in Lisbon in 2010.