The US has been able to "continually shrink" al-Qaeda's ability to launch terror operations against it even as the situation in the Af-Pak region remains not perfect, President Barack Obama has said.
"The situation's not going to be perfect there, but what we have been able to do is to continually shrink the ability of al-Qaeda to launch operations. And we expect to dismantle their operational capacity over the next several years," Obama said in an interview to YouTube, which was broadcast live on the popular video sharing website.
"That is our goal, and we're going to keep on it," he said during the course of the interview which was taken by Steve Grove, head of news and politics, YouTube. Obama's answers on Afghanistan came within hours after he chaired a situation room meeting on Af-Pak with his top national security advisors. "Our work in Afghanistan is precisely because that was the launching pad from which 9/11 happened and 3,000 Americans were killed. So we're not over there by accident," he said.
"Obviously, I disagreed with us going into Iraq, but I will say that we are bringing the war in Iraq to a honourable conclusion because of the extraordinary service of our men and women, both military and civilian in Iraq. We've still got work to do in this transition, but by the end of this year, we'll have all our troops out," he said. The Iraqi people now have a government that they would be looking to for governance and development, he said. "In Afghanistan, we have al-Qaeda and its allies.
We have them along the border region in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and it is my job as president to make sure that they can't launch another 9/11 against us," Obama said.
"Over the next couple of years, we are going to be transitioning so that we are bringing troops back. Afghans are taking a greater lead. The situation's not going to be perfect there, but what we have been able to do is to continually shrink the ability of al-Qaeda to launch operations.
And we expect to dismantle their operational capacity over the next several years," Obama said. Unlike Iraq, Obama conceded, Afghanistan is a tougher situation. "What I've said is that starting in July of this year, we're going to begin to phase down our troop levels. We've agreed with our allies that by 2014 this is going to be an Afghan effort," he added.