WASHINGTON: Back from a surprise trip to Afghanistan, US President Barack Obama said on Monday, the Afghan war “the longest American military combat” will finally be over by the of 2014.
“We’re at a pivotal moment. Our troops are coming home. By the end of this year, our war in Afghanistan will finally come to end,” Obama said in a Memorial Day speech in Arlington, outside of Washington. Obama said he had gone to Afghanistan on the Memorial Day weekend to be with the American troops, who are serving the cause of the US security 7,000 miles away from home.
In his remarks in Bagram, Afghanistan, Obama had earlier reiterated the US post-2014 commitment to the Afghans. “Now, even as our combat mission ends later this year, I want everybody to know, in this country and across the region, America’s commitment to the people of Afghanistan will endure. With our strategic partnership, we’ll continue to stand with Afghans as they strengthen their institutions, as they build their economy, as they improve their lives — men and women, and boys and girls,” he promised.
“Al Qaeda is on its heels in this part of the world, and that’s because of you,” Obama said. At the same he added during his remarks, “Everyone knows Afghanistan is still a very dangerous place.” The US, he said, would be prepared to continue cooperating with its Afghan partners on two security missions “training and equipping the Afghan forces and targeting — counterterrorism targets against the al Qaeda.”
He was hopeful of progress on the US and Afghanistan reaching a bilateral security accord. “And once Afghanistan has sworn in its new president, I’m hopeful we’ll sign a bilateral security agreement that lets us move forward. And with that bilateral security agreement, assuming it is signed, we can plan for a limited military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014.” “Because after all the sacrifices we’ve made, we want to preserve the gains that you have helped to win. And we’re going to make sure that Afghanistan can never again, ever, be used to launch an attack against our country,” he said, addressing the troops.
“So our combat mission here will come to an end. But our obligations to you and your families have only just begun. The al Qaeda leadership may be on the ropes, but in other regions of the world al Qaeda affiliates are evolving and pose a serious threat. We’re going to have to stay strong and we’re going to have to stay vigilant,” he noted in Bagram.In Arlington on Monday, Obama paid tribute to the nearly 2,200 Americans killed in Afghanistan in the 13-year-old conflict.