US President Barack Obama marked the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death with a trip to Afghanistan, signing a strategic pact with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The pact sets out a long-term US role in Afghanistan.
The deal may provide Afghans with reassurances that they will not be abandoned when most Nato combat troops leave in 2014. For Obama, it was an opportunity to draw a line under an unpopular war.
“My fellow Americans, we have travelled 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 a new day on the horizon,” Obama said in a televised address.
“I recognise that many Americans are tired of war ... But we must finish the job we started in Afghanistan and end this war responsibly,” he said.
The agreement does not specify whether a reduced number of US troops and advisers will remain behind after Nato’s 2014 withdrawal deadline.
That issue will be dealt with in a separate status of forces agreement expected to take another year to conclude.
The Taliban, however, called the pact “illegitimate”, as Karzai is “not authorised to sign the document”. The statement was posted on the Voice of Jihad website.
Taliban bombers attacked a heavily fortified guesthouse used by Westerners in Kabul on Wednesday, in deadly defiance of US President Barack Obama’s visit.
Seven people were killed after attackers dressed in burqas detonated a suicide car bomb and clashed with guards at the Green Village complex of guesthouses, officials said.