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Obama: Afghanistan Troop Announcement Coming Soon

US president says he will announce a new Afghanistan war strategy soon. Mr. Obama says he will explain his decision to the American people after the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday weekend

President Barack Obama speaks during a joint press conference with Indian PM Manmohan Singh (not pictured) at the White House, 24 Nov 2009
President Barack Obama speaks during a joint press conference with Indian PM Manmohan Singh (not pictured) at the White House, 24 Nov 2009

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U.S. President Barack Obama says he will announce a new Afghanistan war strategy soon.  Mr. Obama says he will explain his decision to the American people after the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

The president held his final meeting on the new strategy Monday evening - huddling behind closed doors for several hours with members of his national security team.

He says he will make the decision public soon.

"I will be making an announcement to the American people about how we intend to move forward.  I will be doing so shortly," he said.

For weeks, Mr. Obama has been studying possible war scenarios - including a proposal for a substantial increase in U.S. troops.

He defends the lengthy review, saying it is important to get the decision right.

"After eight years - some of those years in which we did not have, I think, either the resources or the strategy to get the job done - it is my intention to finish the job," he said.

The comments came during an appearance at the White House with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is on a state visit.

Mr. Obama said they discussed the need to destroy and disable al-Qaida and its extremist allies, and create a stable Afghanistan.

"I think it is worth mentioning since I am with the prime minister of India, that this is important not just to the United States but to the world - and that the whole world has a core security interest in making sure that the kind of extremism and violence that you have seen emanating from this region is tackled, confronted, in a serious way," he said.

Public opinion polls in the United States show dwindling support for the war in Afghanistan.  But the president says once they understand his plan, Americans will stand behind it.

"I feel very confident that when the American people hear a clear rationale for what we are doing there and how we intend to achieve our goals, that they will be supportive," he said.

Sensitive to public fears of a long conflict, White House officials have stressed that the American commitment in Afghanistan is not open-ended.

They indicate the president has focused on creating the conditions that will permit U.S. forces to eventually withdraw.  In his comments to reporters, the president made clear military training for Afghans is a big part of the equation.

"It is going to be very important to recognize that the Afghan people are ultimately going to have to provide for their own security and so we will be discussing that process whereby Afghan security forces are properly trained and equipped to do the job," he added.

This year has been the deadliest for foreign forces in Afghanistan since the conflict began in 2001.  There are now 68,000 Americans deployed there.

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