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President Obama: ‘More Difficult Days Ahead’ in Afghanistan

President Obama addressed the White House’s major review of the war in Afghanistan Thursday, praising progress in the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban but emphasizing that the United States’ involvement there “continues to be a very difficult endeavor.” He added that the U.S. is “on track to achieve our goals.”

The president underscored the imperative of dealing with al-Qaida to avoid providing a staging area for further attacks against the U.S., recalling the 9/11 attacks.

The White House released a summary, based on classified intelligence assessments, almost a year after President Obama ordered a surge of 30,000 troops to combat the insurgency. He reiterated the scheduled reduction of troops in July 2011, and said the summit of NATO leaders in November marked a “new phase” in the war, with a goal of handing over security responsibilities to Afghan forces by 2014.

The president also addressed the problem of safe havens for extremists in neighboring Pakistan, where “progress has not come fast enough” in rooting them out and more cooperation is needed on both sides of the border.

Mr. Obama also noted the “urgent need” for political and economic progress to stabilize Afghanistan.

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