Obama: Chicago "Performed Magnificently" During Summit | NBC Chicago

Complete coverage of the Chicago NATO Summit

Obama: Chicago "Performed Magnificently" During Summit

President says summit made strides in missile defense, plans for Afghanistan and growing alliance

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    President Obama lauds his hometown of Chicago for organizing a successful NATO Summit weekend. (Published Monday, May 21, 2012)

    President Obama on Monday lauded his hometown of Chicago for organizing a successful NATO Summit weekend.

    "If you talked to leaders from around the world, they loved the city," he said.

    The president acknowledged the presence of protests throughout the weekend, but said the city’s police force "performed magnificently."

    "This is -- part of what NATO defends is free speech and freedom of assembly, and frankly, to my Chicago press, outside of Chicago, folks really weren't all that stressed about the possibility of having some protesters here because that's part of America is about."

    Obama said Chicago's leaders and first responders did a "great job" under "significant pressure and a lot of scrutiny.” He did, however, apologize for all the traffic the event caused.

    "That’s the price of being a world class city," he said, half joking.

    The president took a moment to boost Chicago, calling it the "perfect city" to hold the summit, because of its diverse population -- many of its residents emigrated from NATO countries to Chicago.

    Obama said the discussions that took place have created an "alliance that is stronger, more capable and more ready for the future."

    Turning to the business of the summit, President Obama said discussions on missile defense, Afghanistan and growing the alliance were a success.

    "NATO has been the bedrock of common security, freedom and prosperity for nearly 65 years," he said.

    To increase NATO's defense capabilities, Obama said the members agreed to acquire more drones for surveillance and reconnaissance purposes and to continue air patrols over the Balkan allies. They also worked out an agreement on growing the conventional and nuclear missile and missile defense forces and how to pay for it, he said.

    Part of the agreement puts America's defense radar in Turkey under NATO control. Spain, Romania and Poland have agreed to host "key U.S. assets," he said. The Netherlands will be upgrading its radars.

    "Since this system is neither aimed at nor undermines Russia's strategic deterrent, I continue to believe that missile defense can be an area of cooperation with Russia," Obama said.

    In regards to Afghanistan, the president spoke of the agreement announced earlier Monday outlining an "irreversible transition" of security forces in that country.

    "This will not mark the end of Afghanistan's challenges, obviously, or our partnership with that important country. But we are making substantial progress against our core objective of defeating al Qaeda and denying its safe-haven while helping the Afghans to stand on their own," Obama said.

    Finally, the member nations agreed to deepen their relationships with other nations "that have been critical to alliance operations," he said.

    "To see the breadth of those countries represented in that room is to see how NATO has truly become a hub of global security," he said.

    The 2013 NATO Summit is slated to be held in Erzurum, Turkey.