President Obama, speaking on television on Tuesday night from Bagram Air Base, declared that he had traveled to herald a new era in the relationship between the United States and Afghanistan, “a future in which war ends.”
Mr. Obama’s address, during an unannounced visit to sign a partnership agreement with President Hamid Karzai that sets the terms for relations after the departure of American troops in 2014, was a chance for him to make an election-year case that he is winding down a costly and unpopular war.
“My fellow Americans,” he said, “we’ve traveled through more than a decade under the dark cloud of war. Yet here, in the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan, we can see the light of new day on the horizon.”
The President’s dramatic six-hour visit was a year to the day after Osama bin Laden was killed. Speaking from the country where the 9/11 terrorist attacks were incubated, Mr. Obama suggested that America had come full circle.
“One year ago, from a base here in Afghanistan, our troops launched the operation that killed Osama bin Laden,” the President said. “The goal I set — to defeat Al Qaeda, and deny it a chance to rebuild — is now within our reach.”
Mr. Obama spoke of an “enduring partnership” with Afghanistan, invoking the agreement, which pledges American help in developing the Afghan economy and public institutions, though it makes no concrete financial commitments.
The agreement, Mr. Karzai said, opened “a new chapter in the relationship between the United States and Afghanistan,” one marked by “mutual respect.”
Mr. Obama met briefly with Mr. Karzai before they emerged to sign the pact.
“With this agreement the Afghan people, and the world, should know that Afghanistan has a friend and a partner in the United States,” Mr. Obama said as Mr. Karzai looked on.
Via The New York Times.
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