U.S. President Barack Obama said in his weekly address that the core U.S. objective for going to war in Afghanistan is within reach.
The president said Saturday the goal of ensuring that al-Qaida will never be able to use Afghanistan again to launch attacks against America will be met and the war in Afghanistan will be over by the end of next year.
On Friday, Mr. Obama met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the White House to discuss the future role of the U.S. in Afghanistan. The two leaders held a joint news conference afterwards.
Mr. Obama said he and his Afghan counterpart have agreed on a plan to shift the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan to a support role this spring, a few months earlier than expected.
Mr. Obama said after that, U.S. troops would focus on training, advising and assisting Afghan forces. He said it would be a “historic moment.”
Currently, there are about 66,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, along with several thousand other international soldiers. International forces are expected to end combat operations to Afghan forces at the end of 2014.
The number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014 remains uncertain. Mr. Obama said Friday that any plan would have to include an immunity agreement under which U.S. troops were not subjected to Afghan law.
Mr. Karzai said that he and Mr. Obama also discussed a plan for direct talks with Taliban. The Afghan leader said negotiations between Afghan peace representatives and the Taliban are expected to take place at a Taliban office in Qatar.