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Obama On Transition In Afghanistan


Soldiers take photos as U.S. President Barack Obama, center, shakes hands with troops after delivering remarks at Bagram air base in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 25, 2014.

Thanks to the skill and sacrifice of American troops, diplomats, and intelligence professionals, the U.S. has struck significant blows against al-Qaida’s leadership.

This year, the United States will end its combat mission in Afghanistan. “The United States,” said President Barack Obama, “did not seek this fight. We went into Afghanistan out of necessity, after our nation was attacked by al-Qaida on September 11, 2001.”

Thanks to the skill and sacrifice of American troops, diplomats, and intelligence professionals, the U.S. has struck significant blows against al-Qaida’s leadership. Osama bin Laden was killed and Afghanistan is no longer being used as a base to launch attacks against the United States. The U.S. has supported the Afghan people as they continue the hard work of building a democracy. And as a result, the Afghan people, including women and girls, enjoy greater freedoms and opportunities.

Shortly, Afghans will vote for their next president and Afghanistan will see its first democratic transfer of power in history. In this context, said President Obama, the U.S. has determined very clear objectives in Afghanistan beyond 2014:

“Disrupting threats posed by al-Qaida; supporting Afghan security forces; and giving the Afghan people the opportunity to succeed as they stand on their own.”

The first step will be to end America’s combat mission by the end of 2014. Starting next year, Afghans will be fully responsible for securing their country, with American personnel in an advisory role.

Second, the U.S. will cooperate with Afghans on two narrow missions after 2014: training Afghan forces and supporting counterterrorism operations.

The two final Afghan candidates in the run-off election for president have each indicated that they would sign the Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States promptly after taking office. This will enable the United States to maintain a military presence after 2014.

The U.S. remains committed to a sovereign, secure, stable, unified, and democratic Afghanistan. Toward that end, the U.S. will remain fully supportive of our partners in the Afghan Security forces, and we will continue to proudly work side-by-side with the many Afghans who work to ensure the security and prosperity of their fellow citizens.
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