President Obama's surprise visit to Afghanistan yesterday, on the first anniversary of the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, was his third visit to the country since taking office. Earlier in the trip, he and Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed an agreement outlining cooperation between their countries once the U.S.-led international force withdraws in 2014. But yesterday he used the occasion to announce the beginning of the end of the war in Afghanistan and thank U.S. troops for their service there.
President Barack Obama, speaking early Wednesday in Afghanistan at the tail end of a surprise visit there, discussed how the war will end and promised a steady drawdown of U.S. troops.
Obama committed to pulling 23,000 troops out of the country by the end of summer and sticking to the 2014 deadline to turn security fully over to the Afghan government. He said that NATO will set a goal this month for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations next year.
"We will not build permanent bases in this country, nor will we be patrolling its cities and mountains. That will be the job of the Afghan people," the president said during a speech at Bagram Air Base. . .
The president promised not to keep troops in harm's way "a single day longer than is absolutely required for our national security," but promised to "finish the job" and "end this war responsibly."
Obama spoke of a "negotiated peace," and said his administration has been in direct talks with the Taliban. "We've made it clear that they can be a part of this future if they break with al Qaeda, renounce violence, and abide by Afghan laws," he said.
Finally, the president vowed: "This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end."
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