News / USA

Obama Details Afghan Troop Drawdown in State of Union Speech

President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress, Feb. 12, 2013
President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress, Feb. 12, 2013
Kent Klein
U.S. President Barack Obama says about one-half of American forces still in Afghanistan will leave the country by this time next year.  The president made the announcement during his annual State of the Union address, which focused largely on the U.S. economy.
 
The president said 34,000 troops will come home from Afghanistan over the next year. That would put the United States on pace to have all its combat forces out by the end of 2014, as planned.
 
“This drawdown will continue.  And by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over,” he said.

Related video report by Carolyn Presutti
 
US President Talks Afghanistan, Economy in State of the Unioni
X
February 14, 2013 7:20 PM
With more than one-third of Americans telling pollsters they want the president to focus on the economy, President Barack Obama did just that in his State of the Union Address in Washington Tuesday night. In setting his agenda for the coming year, the president also called for reforms of America's gun laws and declared America's involvement in the conflict in Afghanistan nearly ended. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti reports on the speech and reaction from the opposition party.

The president called for ongoing U.S. training of Afghan forces, and continued counterterrorism efforts worldwide, including a legal framework to guide those operations.
 
In his fifth annual address to Congress, and the first of his second term, Obama laid out his agenda for the coming year.
 
After his inaugural address last month emphasized social issues, the president used his State of the Union speech to refocus attention on his plan to boost the U.S. economy.
 
He called on both parties in Congress to support his proposals to help the middle class, create jobs and reduce the deficit.
 
“Nothing I am proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime.  It is not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth,” he said.
 
In the Republican Party response, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2016, said Obama’s economic plan depends too heavily on government spending.
 
“And, therefore, as you heard tonight, his solution to virtually every problem we face is for Washington to tax more, borrow more and spend more,” he said.
 
Those polled in a recent Pew Research Center public opinion survey listed the economy, jobs and the budget deficit as their top concerns.
 
On foreign policy, the president issued a warning to North Korea, which conducted a nuclear test early Tuesday. 
 
“Provocations of the sort we saw last night will only further isolate them, as we stand by our allies, strengthen our own missile defense, and lead the world in taking firm action in response to these threats,” Obama said.
 
Obama also said the U.S. and its allies will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
 
On Syria, the president pledged to keep the pressure up on the government there, but did not commit to military force.
 
He also announced that he will visit the Middle East in March, and promised continued support for Israel’s security and peace in the region.
 
On a key domestic issue, Obama asked lawmakers to speed passage of legislation to update U.S. immigration policy.
 
“As we speak, bipartisan groups in both chambers are working diligently to draft a bill, and I applaud their efforts.  Now let’s get this done. Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away, and America will be better for it.  Let’s get it done,” he said.
 
Senator Rubio agreed on the need for immigration reform, but he called for stricter enforcement of existing laws.
 
“We need a responsible, permanent solution to the problem of those who are here illegally.  But first, we must follow through on the broken promises of the past, to secure our borders and enforce our laws,” Rubio said.
 
The president also appealed for passage of his gun control initiatives.  He said that more than 1,000 people have died from guns in America since the killing of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut school in December.
 
He talked about one victim, a 15-year-old girl from Chicago named Hadiya Pendleton, who was gunned down days after marching in his inaugural parade.
 
“Just three weeks ago, she was here, in Washington, with her classmates, performing for her country at my inauguration.  And a week later, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my house,” Obama said.
 
Hadiya’s parents were among the shooting victims’ families who attended the speech.
 
Obama will make separate trips to North Carolina, Georgia and Illinois this week to seek support for his agenda.
 
The annual address comes from a requirement in the U.S. Constitution that the president report to Congress “from time to time” on the state of the union.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: david lulasa from: tambua,gimarakwa,hamisi,v
February 13, 2013 6:43 AM
everything has an end..but if karzai continues insisting that things have been worst due to the coming of NATO forces and failing to undestand the huge benefit that NATO has in afghanistan,troops could even return tomorrow...karzai had always been assured that NATO is not out to stay in afghanistan for life even though there be no taliban attacks.


by: Torialay Razaqyar from: Tampa Florida
February 12, 2013 11:20 PM
wow ! what a great speech.
keep your promises and go forward Mr. President.
help and protect democracy , human rights , civil rights , free dome and justice in America and all over the world.
great leaders makes the history, they don't hide from the history.
regards

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid