David Cameron has announced that Britain is to host the 2014 Nato summit, the gathering of leaders from the alliance states that has been held every two years since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.
Speaking on Friday, the prime minister said: "This will be another important moment in the history of the alliance. It will be an opportunity for leaders to recognise the contribution and the sacrifice made by our service men and women as the Isaf mission in Afghanistan draws to a close, and as Nato draws down its forces and looks to help Afghanistan in different ways."
Cameron added: "The summit will also be about the future of our alliance. Britain has always been at the forefront of shaping the alliance, from its start in 1949 to Nato's current operations, and the 2014 summit will be critical in ensuring Nato remains a relevant, modern, adaptable force fit for the 21st century."
In a statement, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said: "I warmly welcome the offer by the government of the United Kingdom to host the 2014 NATO summit, which has been welcomed and accepted by allies." The venue and date for the event has yet to be announced.
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Labour's Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, a former secretary-general of Nato and ex-defence secretary, said: "The 2014 Summit of Nato will be one of the most important in Nato's history.
"It will come on the eve of final combat troops leaving Afghanistan and handing over internal security to the Afghan National Army and police force. Nato troops have done an amazing job in training and retaining the new security forces. Britain has played a major role in Nato's engagement in Afghanistan and there have been significant sacrifices in human and cash terms as Nato has sought to make Afghanistan a safer and more normal state. The contrast from the days of the Taliban and al Qaida is enormous and visible.
"Nato will be looking forward to its post Afghanistan role in Europe and the world. This summit will have the clear mission to define the continuing relevance of the Alliance in an unpredictable and uncertain world. Nato summits are enormously important for more than the 28 countries involved. As the principle collective security organisation in the world Nato takes the lead in showing what needs to be done and how it can be achieved. Britain is in a good position to offer guidance at this crucial time."