President Obama Speaks From Afghanistan

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President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai shake hands after signing a strategic partnership agreement on May 1, 2012 at the Presidential Palace in Kabul. The agreement provides US military and financial support to Afghanistan for 10 years after the 2014 scheduled troop withdraw.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Office of the White House Press Secretary has provided excerpts from President Obama’s speech to be delivered at 7:30 p.m. EST.“Already, nearly half the Afghan people live in places where Afghan Security Forces are moving into the lead. This month, at a NATO Summit in Chicago, our coalition will set a goal for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations across the country next year. International troops will continue to train, advise and assist the Afghans, and fight alongside them when needed. But we will shift into a support role as Afghans step forward.

As we do, our troops will be coming home. Last year, we removed 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Another 23,000 will leave by the end of the summer. After that, reductions will continue at a steady pace, with more of our troops coming home. And as our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country.”

“My fellow Americans, we have traveled 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. The Iraq War is over. The number of our troops in harm’s way has been cut in half, and more will be coming home soon. We have a clear path to fulfill our mission in Afghanistan, while delivering justice to al Qaeda.

This future is only within reach because of our men and women in uniform. Time and again, they have answered the call to serve in distant and dangerous places. In an age when so many institutions have come up short, these Americans stood tall. They met their responsibilities to one another, and the flag they serve under. I just met with some of them, and told them that as Commander-in-Chief, I could not be prouder. In their faces, we see what is best in ourselves and our country.”

“As we emerge from a decade of conflict abroad and economic crisis at home, it is time to renew America. An America where our children live free from fear, and have the skills to claim their dreams. A united America of grit and resilience, where sunlight glistens off soaring new towers in downtown Manhattan, and we build our future as one people, as one nation.”

“This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end.”

CNN provided a roundup of reactions to President Barack Obama's unannounced visit to Afghanistan, where he and Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed an agreement on future ties:

"We are here to visit military personnel in Afghanistan, and we found out this afternoon the president would be coming in. And we were fortunate enough to be invited to witness the signing of the long-term relationship agreement."

-- Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, who was on a visit to Kabul when Obama arrived

"I think it's a good thing. I think it's always good when the president goes to where young men and women are in harm's way, and I think that many of us who have been involved in Afghanistan are very supportive of the strategic partnership agreement, which I'm sure he'll be talking about. We think the agreement is good."

-- Arizona Sen. John McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee and Obama's onetime presidential rival

"After nearly a year of not speaking about the war and 17 months of not visiting the war zone, this visit and speech is long overdue. It shouldn't require congressional pressure, editorials from leading newspapers and a presidential election to get the president to fulfill his role as commander in chief and speak to the American people about the war in Afghanistan."

-- Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-California, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, in a prepared statement

"Clearly, this trip is campaign-related. We've seen recently that President Obama has visited college campuses in an attempt to win back the support of that age group since he has lost it over the last three years. Similarly, this trip to Afghanistan is an attempt to shore up his national security credentials, because he has spent the past three years gutting our military."

-- Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, in a prepared statement

"Tonight's agreement will help bring about an Afghanistan that is more secure from al Qaeda's return and from Taliban domination. That is a real achievement for both our countries, for the region and for the world. It was an especially powerful moment to witness what I believe will be a big step toward ending a long war that has demanded so much sacrifice from the men and women who serve our nation and their families."

-- Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who had gone to Kabul with Reed on a previously scheduled trip

"I applaud him being in Afghanistan. I think it's important for the troops to see the president. And certainly after all of these years of fighting where the troops have done such heroic work and did such an outstanding job, I think it's important for the president to be there and signing the agreement with President Karzai."

-- Rep. Peter King, R-New York, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee

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