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US to speed up Afghan troop transition: Obama

Published on Jan 12, 2013 5:45 AM
US President Barack Obama answers a question during a joint press conference with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai in the East Room at the White House in Washington, DC, on Jan 11, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Barack Obama Friday said North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) troops would speed up a transfer of lead security responsibility to Afghan forces this spring, in a sign the pace of United States (US) troop withdrawals could quicken.

After meeting President Hamid Karzai to chart Afghanistan's future, Mr Obama insisted the US had achieved its target there of "decapitating" Al-Qaeda, despite falling short of heady early goals for Afghan reconstruction.

The two leaders met at a crucial moment in the final chapter of a long, bloody war, and as Mr Obama balances the future shape of Afghanistan with US combat fatigue and a desire to spend America's dwindling resources at home.

"Starting this spring, our troops will have a different mission - training, advising, assisting Afghan forces. It will be a historic moment and another step toward full Afghan sovereignty," Mr Obama told a joint news conference.

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