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NATO leaders are beginning a two day summit in Chicago on Sunday with the US pressuring members to stay the course in Afghanistan.

While NATO troops are expected to withdraw from the war-torn country in 2014, France’s new leader Francois Hollande plans to pull his combat troops this year.

Meanwhile Russian concerns about NATO’s new missile defense shield still linger which the head of the military alliance was keen to dispel.

“The fact is that it’s not directed against Russia. Technically it’ is not designed to attack Russia,” said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO Secretary-General.

“We have offered them concrete cooperation and told them that the best way they could get an insurance, a real insurance would be to engage in an active cooperation and see with their own eyes that the system is not directed against them,” added Rasmussen.

A big rally is due to get underway later near the Convention centre in downtown Chicago where world leaders are gathering.

Around 10,000 demonstrators are expected to join the march. The Coalition against G8 and NATO are demanding that leaders put people before profits.

So far, protests have stayed mostly peaceful. Police have made several arrests over the past week. Officials say their strategy has been to prevent anarchist troublemakers from disrupting the protests.

Copyright © 2014 euronews

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