Obama, Karzai announce reduced role for US military in Afghanistan

by Jonathan Easley, The Hill  |  published on January 13, 2013

President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Friday announced that the U.S. military would begin a scaled-back role in Afghanistan in mid-2013, sooner than initially projected.

“Starting this spring our troops will have a different mission — training, advising and assisting Afghan forces,” Obama said in a joint press conference with Karzai in the East Room of the White House.

“By the end of next year — 2014 — the transition will be complete,” he continued. “This war will come to a responsible end.”

Obama said he’d be taking recommendations from commanders on the ground to determine how many — or if any — troops would stay in the country after 2014. In a statement released just moments before the press conference, the White House said the two governments hoped to soon finalize an agreement on residual U.S. troops.

Obama and Karzai met privately in the Oval Office earlier in the day, where the two “discussed the possibility of a post-2014 U.S. presence that is sustainable, that supports a capable and effective Afghan National Security Force, and that continues to pressure the remnants of al-Qaeda and its affiliates,” according to a statement from the White House, which said the “scope and nature” would be hammered out in a Bilateral Security Agreement “as soon as possible.”

At the press conference Friday, Obama said he would announce the next phase of the drawdown in “coming months.”

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