US president vows to finish war in Afghanistan
KABUL (PAN): President Barack Obama promised on Wednesday that the United States would “finish the work in hand” and vowed to restore peace in turmoil-hit Afghanistan after a decade of fighting against militants.
After signing the vital strategic partnership pact with President Hamid Karzai late, Obama told US troops on the Bagram Airbase: “We must finish the job we started in Afghanistan and end this war responsibly.”
He added: “My fellow Americans, we have travelled through more than a decade under the dark cloud of war. Yet here, in the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon.
“This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end. With faith in each other and our eyes fixed on the future, let us finish the work at hand, and forge a just and lasting peace."
The number of US troops in harm’s way had been cut in half, and more would be coming home soon, he said, adding they had a clear path to fulfill thier mission in Afghanistan, while delivering justice to Al- Qaeda.
On the strategic pact with Afghanistan, he said it defined a new kind of relationship between both countries -- a future where Afghans were responsible for their own security, building an equal partnership between two sovereign states, a future in which the war ended and a new chapter began.
In addition to the pact that outlines long-term US commitment to Afghanistan, at the forthcoming NATO Summit in Chicago later this month, the coalition would set a goal for Afghan forces to lead combat operations across the country next year, said Obama.
“International troops will continue to train, advise and assist the Afghans, and fight alongside them when needed. But we will shift into a support role as Afghans step forward,” added Obama, who flew into Kabul on a surprise visit on Tuesday evening.
In his address, the president said last year 10,000 US troops were removed from Afghanistan, another 23,000 would leave by the end of the summer, and the reductions would continue at a steady pace, with more troops returning home.
“And as our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country,” he added.
Commenting on the war against the Al-Qaeda, he said the US and its allies went to war to wipe-out the militant group, but despite initial success, for number of reasons, the war has taken longer than most anticipated.
“But over the last three years, the tide has turned. We broke the Taliban’s momentum. We’ve built strong Afghan Security Forces. We devastated Al- Qaeda’s leadership, taking out over 20 of their top 30 leaders.
“And one year ago, from a base here in Afghanistan, our troops launched the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. The goal that I set – to defeat al Qaeda, and deny it a chance to rebuild – is within reach,” said Obama in his speech, what sounded like a powerful election message to his voters at home.
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