News / Asia

Obama Tells VOA US Will Not Abandon Afghanistan Despite Troop Cuts

President Barack Obama during an interview with Voice of America in the Map Room of the White House June 22, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President Barack Obama during an interview with Voice of America in the Map Room of the White House June 22, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Barack Obama has discussed the current situation in Afghanistan in an interview with the Voice of America.

The president says his decision to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan does not mean the U.S. is abandoning that country.

"Keep in mind that we're talking about 10,000 troops by the end of this year, an additional 23,000 by the end of next summer - and we'll still have 68,000 troops there, in addition to the coalition partner troops," President Obama said. "So there is still going to be a substantial presence.  But what it does signal is that Afghans are slowly taking more and more responsibility."



Phased transition


The president says his decision is consistent with what he called a phased transition process.

"Already there are Afghans out there every day who are fighting the fight, Afghans who are dying on behalf of their country, and their freedom, and their dignity," he noted.  "And what we want to make sure of is that we continue to be a good partner with that process, but also want to send a signal to the Afghan people: this is your country ultimately and you are going to have responsibilities."

Common ground

In recent months, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been critical of the United States.  But President Obama says overall, he shares the same goals.

"Obviously, there are going to be tensions in a difficult environment where we have a large number of foreign troops inside a country," Obama said.  "It is true that there have been times where the tactics on the ground, day to day, result in tensions.  But overall, his interest in making sure that Afghanistan is not a safe haven for terrorists, that there is an adherence to the Afghan constitution.  Those commitments that he's made are the ones that are entirely consistent with what I see as U.S. interests."

Peace prospects

President Obama emphasized that there has to be a political settlement to bring about genuine peace in the region.

"But the terms of that political settlement are important, and we've been very clear in our criteria," he stressed.  "We will encourage the Afghans, and we ourselves will talk to anybody.  But they are going to have to break ties with al-Qaida, they are going to have to pledge to abide by the Afghan constitution and they will have to cease violence as a means of bringing about political power.  If they take those steps, then I think there is a strong possibility of creating the kind of political settlement that would finally give Afghans relief from 30 years of war."

Pakistan

As for relations between the United States and Pakistan, Obama says that relationship has become more honest over time.

"That raises some differences that are real," the president said. "Obviously, the operation to take out Osama bin Laden created additional tensions, but I had always been very clear to Pakistan that if we ever found him [bin Laden] and had a shot, that we would take it."

President Obama says "Pakistan not only has a responsibility but also a deep interest in dealing with terrorist elements that are still in their territory."

Brookings analyst Michael O'Hanlon's reaction to President Obama's speech:

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid