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Obama Insists Progress Being Made in Afghanistan

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States is making progress in Afghanistan, and his plan to withdraw U.S. forces next year is on track.

In an interview with Australian public television broadcast Thursday, Mr. Obama says the U.S. has seen "a blunting of the momentum of the Taliban," which had been building up in the year prior to his taking office.

The president added that international forces can not be in Afghanistan "in perpetuity," and that responsibility needs to be transferred to the Afghan people.

Mr. Obama also backed Afghan President Hamid Karzai to lead his country into the 21st century and further stabilize Afghanistan.

President Obama says the United States needs a strong partner to dismantle al-Qaida and its affiliate networks, and he said the Afghan leader has the capacity to be that strong partner. Mr. Obama said the U.S. will continue to put pressure on Mr. Karzai to deliver key reforms.

Mr. Obama's remarks appeared to downplay President Karzai's recent controversial comments in which he accused Western powers of trying to rig last year's presidential election.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.