U.S. President Barack Obama and
Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai have signed an agreement setting
the course for U.S.-Afghan relations after the war’s end.
Obama makes a surprise visit to Afghanistan to sign a historic strategic
partnership agreement that will help to guide our future relationship
with the country.
President Obama made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan Tuesday,
arriving under the cover of darkness to sign the U.S.-Afghanistan
Strategic Partnership Agreement.
At the presidential palace in Kabul, President Obama talked about the
importance of the document, which sets out a 10-year strategic
partnership after NATO forces end their combat role in 2014.
“Together, we are now committed to replacing war with peace, and
pursuing a more hopeful future as equal partners," said President Obama.
After expressing thanks to U.S. troops at Bagram Air Base, Obama
announced the agreement to the American people.
“Today, I signed an historic agreement between the United States and
Afghanistan that defines a new kind of relationship between our
countries," said Obama.
The president said that at this month’s NATO summit in Chicago, the
coalition will set a goal for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat
operations across the country next year.
“International troops will continue to train, advise and assist the
Afghans, and fight alongside them when needed," he said. "But we will
shift into a support role as Afghans step forward.”
The agreement signals that the U.S. will continue to work with
Afghanistan in the long term, according to Brian Katulis, a senior
fellow at Washington’s Center for American Progress.
“This agreement will offer that reassurance that we are not going to
abandon them, that we will actually be with them, and that we will work
with them," said Katulis.
Katulis says the strategic agreement also gives the Afghan government
incentive to tackle its longstanding problem with corruption.
“For the Afghan people, I think this agreement will tangibly send this
message that the United States and its NATO allies will continue to
provide economic support, will help you diplomatically - if you fulfill
your commitments," he said.
agreement was signed exactly one year after U.S. Navy SEALs killed al-Qaida
leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
And the president reminded Americans that the original goal of the war -
disrupting al-Qaida’s ability to launch terror strikes - had been met.
“This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end,"
Obama reassured Karzai that the U.S. has accomplished its aim in
Afghanistan, and will not build permanent bases there.
The U.S. has more than 90,000 troops in Afghanistan. That number is
expected to shrink to 65,000 by the end of this year, and to fewer than
20,000 by the end of 2014.