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Visiting Obama Vows To End Afghan War This Year

U.S. President Barack Obama (file photo)
U.S. President Barack Obama (file photo)
President Barack Obama has promised U.S. forces that America's war in Afghanistan will come to a close at the end of this year.

The president made a surprise visit to Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan on May 25 to celebrate the Memorial Day holiday weekend with troops.

Obama told soldiers that the war is at a pivotal moment, with Afghan forces taking over primary responsibility for the security of their country.

The U.S.president also said he was hopeful that Washington would sign a bilateral security agreement with Kabul after a new Afghan president was sworn in.

Outgoing President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign the agreement.

RFE/RL's Afghan Service reports that an Afghan government source has confirmed that Karzai refused to meet Obama at Bagram.

However, U.S. officials say the two spoke by phone shortly after Obama flew out of Afghanistan.

According to U.S. officials, Obama told Karzai he wanted to conclude a bilateral security agreement with the next president.

He also told Karzai he would inform him of his decision on post-2014 troop levels before making it public.

Washington needs the security agreement to keep a small contingent in Afghanistan for training and counterterrorism missions beyond the end of 2014, when the bulk of U.S. and NATO forces withdraw.

Karzai is the only president the country has had since the UN-backed deal that followed the ousting of the Taliban by a U.S.-led coalition in late 2001.

He is barred from serving another term.

A second round of voting in the presidential poll is scheduled for June 14, pitting former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah against former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani.

Both of those candidates have said they will sign the security agreement with Washington.
Based on reporting by Reuters and AP, with additional reporting by RFE/RL's Afghan Service