Obama says US goal in Afghanistan 'within reach'
WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Barack Obama said on Saturday that the US goal in Afghanistan was "within reach" as he vowed to move ahead with a timetable to end the 11-year-old military campaign and focus on a broad domestic agenda.
"We've pushed the Taleban out of their strongholds," Mr Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. "And our core objective - the reason we went to war in the first place - is now within reach: ensuring that Al-Qaeda can never again use Afghanistan to launch attacks against America."
The comments came after Mr Obama wrapped up talks with visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai, promising to speed up a transfer of lead security responsibility from Nato to Afghan forces this spring, in a sign that the pace of US troop withdrawal could quicken.
After meeting with Mr Karzai, Mr Obama said Nato forces would have a "very limited" role in the country after 2014 and insisted that Washington had achieved its prime goal of "decapitating" Al-Qaeda.