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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Obama says 9/11 wars nearing end

KABUL, Afghanistan — President Barack Obama told Americans Tuesday that after a decade of post-Sept. 11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, “we can see the light of a new day” — hours after signing an agreement that extended the U.S. commitment to Afghanistan.

Speaking early Wednesday morning local time from Bagram Air Base — a year after U.S. Navy SEALs killed al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden — Obama said the U.S. is prepared to shift into a limited support role in the region after combat troops leave in 2014 and begin to “emerge from a decade of conflict abroad and economic crisis at home.”

“This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end,” Obama said an election-year speech that invoked the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. and cast him as ending the wars.

“Over the last three years, the tide has turned,” he declared. “We broke the Taliban’s momentum. We’ve built strong Afghan security forces. We devastated al-Qaida’s leadership, taking out over 20 of their top 30 leaders. And one year ago, from a base here in Afghanistan, our troops launched the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. The goal that I set — to defeat al-Qaida, and deny it a chance to rebuild — is within reach.”

Obama said the administration has been in direct talks with Taliban members and that they “can be a part of this future if they break with al-Qaida, renounce violence, and abide by Afghan laws.”

He said many members “from foot soldiers to leaders” have indicated an interest in reconciliation and that “a path to peace is now set before them.”

“Those who refuse to walk it will face strong Afghan security forces, backed by the United States and our allies,” he said.

The remarks came just hours after he and Afghan President Hamid Karzai put their signatures to a far-reaching pact that will govern U.S. support for Afghanistan after U.S. combat forces are gone at the end of 2014.

Obama, who made the trip to Afghanistan unannounced, and Karzai signed the agreement in front of Afghan and U.S. flags at the presidential palace, just after midnight local time. Obama called the signing of the pact a “historic moment for our two nations.”

After the signing, Obama addressed U.S. troops at Bagram, crediting them with blunting the Taliban, driving al-Qaida out of Afghanistan and decimating its ranks.

But he warned that the conflict wasn’t yet over.

“There’s going to be heartbreak and pain and difficulty ahead,” he told the 3,200 service members gathered at a hangar at the base. “But there’s a light on the horizon because of the sacrifices you’ve made.”

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