Barack Obama pledges to 'finish the job' in Afghanistan

 

Mr Obama hailed the approaching end of the war and thanked US troops

US President Barack Obama has pledged to "finish the job" and end the Afghan war, addressing the US public live from a military base in Afghanistan.

Speaking a year after Osama Bin Laden's killing, Mr Obama thanked US troops and hailed plans to end combat operations.

He arrived in Kabul on a surprise visit lasting a few hours to sign an accord on future Afghan-US ties with President Hamid Karzai, ahead of a Nato summit.

Hours after his speech, at least seven people died in an attack in Kabul.

Afghan officials said at least two suicide bombers targeted a residential compound popular with foreigners in the eastern part of the capital.

They said at least four of those killed were from a nearby school. Seventeen people were wounded. The Taliban later claimed responsibility for the attacks.

A spokesman for the Nato-led force praised the Afghan security forces for "taking the lead in putting down another desperate attack by insurgents".

Analysis

The partnership addresses long-term Afghan financial and security needs and aims to make clear the West is not cutting and running.

That's an important message for audiences in Nato countries, as well as in Afghanistan. But it also sends a signal to the militants and their supporters eyeing up the "end game".

More than 20 drafts were exchanged before the final text could be agreed. Clauses were also inserted late on to try to reassure neighbours like Iran and Pakistan who are nervous about a continued US presence.

Change will be gradual. The US will retain a large degree of influence - but less and less control - over key areas like prisons and night raids. Crucially for Afghans, they now have a framework for gaining control of these issues.

The deal will not itself provide a durable peace - that will need many other steps, including a settlement with the insurgent groups and the co-operation of Afghanistan's neighbours.

'National security'

Earlier, Mr Obama said signing the pact with President Karzai was "a historic moment" for both nations.

His visit and TV address came as the patience of the US public with the war in Afghanistan is wearing thin.

In the speech, beamed back to prime-time evening audiences in the US, the president said that at the forthcoming Nato summit, to be held in Chicago later this month, the alliance would "set a goal for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations across the country next year".

Nato has already committed to withdrawing from combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

"I will not keep Americans in harm's way a single day longer than is absolutely required for our national security," Mr Obama said. "But we must finish the job we started in Afghanistan, and end this war responsibly."

Correspondents say Mr Obama's words appear to be aimed at showing American voters he is pursuing a strategy to wind down the war, while reassuring Afghans in the face of a continuing Taliban insurgency.

'Path to peace'

About 23,000 of the 88,000 US troops currently in the country are expected to leave Afghanistan by the summer, with all US and Nato combat troops out by the end of 2014.

"It is time to renew America," Mr Obama said towards the end of his remarks.

"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.

"The Iraq war is over. The number of our troops in harm's way has been cut in half, and more will be coming home soon. We have a clear path to fulfil our mission in Afghanistan, while delivering justice to al-Qaeda."

Start Quote

Barack Obama and Hamid Karzai on 1 May 2012

America has no designs beyond an end to al-Qaeda safe-havens, and respect for Afghan sovereignty”

End Quote Barack Obama US President

During the speech, Mr Obama outlined the agreement he had just signed with Mr Karzai.

The BBC's Paul Adams says 20 months of negotiation finally produced an agreement after differences over night raids by Nato special forces and the handling of prisoners were ironed out.

According to the US president, the document outlines plans for training Afghan forces and supporting counter-terrorism efforts, as well as "Afghan commitments to transparency and accountability".

Mr Obama also spoke of a "negotiated peace" with the Taliban, saying that if insurgents broke with al-Qaeda, and followed the "path to peace", there could be reconciliation.

He said that ahead of the Chicago meeting of Nato, he had made it clear to Pakistan that it could be an "equal partner in the process".

Pakistan and US relations soured after Mr Obama launched the raid that killed Bin Laden inside the country's border.

"In pursuit of a durable peace, America has no designs beyond an end to al-Qaeda safe-havens, and respect for Afghan sovereignty."

Mr Obama also rejected calls to leave Afghanistan in advance of the 2014 Nato timeline, saying "we must finish the job we started in Afghanistan, and end this war responsibly".

President Karzai said after the meeting: "By signing this document, we close the last 10 years and open a new season of equal relations."

The Taliban accused him of selling Afghan sovereignty to the Americans.

In the wake of the agreement, the US is to designate Afghanistan as a major non-Nato ally, US officials are quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

The deal does not commit the US to any specific spending or troop presence, but does leave the way open for Washington to keep forces in Afghanistan until 2024, the Associated Press reports.

 

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  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 399.

    The Islam has developed as a counter-revolution to that other religion in that area methinks. The rest is exodus from ex-Planet Prime. ..if they only could find a free place for a launchpad. ... like i was going to tell a man where my mothership is stranded. Okay, a bike might fly. ...ooh, typing and cycling. The clouds are having a proper lol.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 398.

    After 7/7 many so-called liberals said it was an 'understandable' reaction to 'us' invading 'their' i.e. muslim countries.

    Maybe they had a point. That said, if you think the Mideast is 'your' country you can hardly claim to be British, no matter where you were born.
    They and our troops can cross each other on the way home.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 397.

    Obama won the last election on the "I'll stop all the wars within a year" vote.

    He then proceeded to triple the troops in Afghanistan at a cost of $2bn a week.

    Now he is trying to win the next election on "I'll get the troops out of Afghanistan" even though he put most of them there himself......

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 396.

    395.Little_Old_Me

    That would be Because the Muslim Religion is not only a Religion it prescribes a way of life Islam is also political.. and by that '' read BBC Many Muslims not voting as its forbidden ''
    You will find that yes as a whole the west is secular. The Majority of Muslim states I have visited are not.. Tip watch women BBC Reports from these countries.. They cover up.
    Helpful ?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 395.

    Why do so many posters here keep refering to "Muslim world" as if it were one entity? By the same token they must think that the entire western world is Christian because that's the dominant religion...???

    If you judge a whole, espcially one that isn't actually a whole anyway, but the actions of the worst then every man living in the western world is a child abuser like some RC priests were...

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 394.

    We should bring our troops home, never ever intervene in the region again, and accept absolutely no immigrants or asylum seekers from there.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 393.

    What "job" exactly? Obama is no different to past or future ringers placed as 'president' by money.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 392.

    366.Bibi

    There are many many Muslims who live in the U.K. and hate it.. They are desperate to make it a Muslim state.. There are many Muslims who do not wish to have Westerners in their Land
    Rather then bomb the hell out of each other, its time for the Gutless Politicos to speak and give a solution > Westerns Back home, the Muslim that don't like can go the other way..
    Problem solved !!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 391.

    It may be the end of the road for Obama and the US but that war-torn road surely will go on for many generations yet to come...

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 390.

    //Bibi
    Comment number 366 is an Editors' Pick
    2 Hours ago
    ... and what long-term support and succour will be given to the hundreds of thousands of ordinary Afghan people whose lives have been irrevocably shattered just because some foreign governments didn't approve of the way their country was run?//

    except there were other reasons, and most afghans didn't like taliban either.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 389.

    The pukka terrorists wouldn't put themselves into jail. What do the rest of the three apes? no idea. But mankind needs a quantum-jump of a change of all things really. ..i grow now not several more heads, this one has, all things in cosmos considering, too much fantasy left for building a space-cruiser. Toodle-hooy.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 388.

    Afghanistan hasn't been in the news for a few weeks, his visiting has reminded many about the problems in the region.

    He is on the election trail and wants the publicity to bolster his campaign back home, so it's hard not to feel a little cynical about the timing.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 387.

    Re 204: I believe you must have mis-understood my post and reading your post I think that you mis-understand the whole situation. I was simply saying that if the 'aim' of the war, which changed to suit the invading nations was to 'free' the people of Afghanistan this can't be achieved by force. It is up to the human spirit to free oneself and up to the spirit of the people to free ones nation.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 386.

    This is good news, for the past few years little has been accomplished, besides hundreds of people being killed, or maimed. But yet in reality nothing will change, just as in Iraq, we, the U.S.A. will still have many bases there and will continue to have thousands of ‘peacekeepers’ or ‘trainers’ for the Afghan army/police. I am disappointed that he, Obama, has only now gotten around toThis

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 385.

    I'd have thought the taliban's failure to defeat the west, AQ's failure to cripple the west or mobilise muslim masses, should show how little support both have.

    Syria and Egypt killings today show real problem of muslim world - themselves, not us.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 384.

    President took National Security issue very serious and successful!
    I do believe that safety of our people and security of USA is always our No1 priority. So USA as a world leader, must be there were action is!
    I agree that by end of 2014 USA should pull back our troops from Afghanistan ( my opinion: after that special operation troops should stay in Afghanistan, unofficial, under CIA)…

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 383.

    I agree Bibi I can draw the same conclusion here. Its all hushed up and quickly closed down by the Media and the Powers that be, but there have been many arrest on Terror plotters this week
    also mass protest at a Paedophile Ring trial, all hushed because the perps are of a certain religion.. we need the army back to guard us against those who are here and don't like they way its run..

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 382.

    gimme vine and consolation. When we already had philosophy, science and democracy were they still laying all in ruins in the Near-East. When became freedom and fantasy substituted by monotonteism, 381-ish by Ceasar Wossname? build him statue consisting in a light beacon in one hand, a picture-book in the other, take away all hard-fought-for wisdom and replace that with ..thingey, new planet.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 381.

    I just wonder how many people realise just what the people of Afghanistan have been going through for decades! WAR, DEATH, DESTRUCTION, MAIMING (both physical and/or mental). They have been LIVING this NIGHTMARE for 100% of their lives. NOT just a few months of being 'deployed' and then to go home to a HEROS welcome and collect little medels, pins and other meaningless nonsense.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 380.

    This is just Obama's own smoke and mirrors for the benefit of his re-election campaign.Otherwise,the drama of his Afghan visit and the rest of the theatrical display will not extricate the U.S from the Afghan quagmire in the near future.The key for this still remains with the Taliban and Pakistan.Hamid Karzai,unfortunately,is only a figurehead.

 

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