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Obama to announce US withdrawal from Afghan war

 
 
 
 
 
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US President Barack Obama is expected to announce in his upcoming State of the Union Address that 34,000 US troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan within a year, according to a White House official.

Obama plans to deliver his State of the Union Address at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time (0400 GMT) on Tuesday, an administration official said, adding that the troop pullout announcement falls in line with White House plans to finish the war by the end of 2014.

But political analysts say a full troop withdrawal by the end of 2014 is highly unlikely since the Pentagon is expected to maintain a small presence in the country.

The United States currently has 66,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from about 100,000 in 2010.

Last month, Obama held discussions with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on the timetable for transitioning Afghan forces into the lead combat role, with both leaders agreeing to move up the transition date from the summer to the spring.

However, since then tension between the two sides has risen, and Karzai recently announced that the US has stopped fighting against the Taliban. Karzai also said that the greatest threat to Afghanistan is not the Taliban but the interference by foreign powers.

The US-led war in Afghanistan began in 2001. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues to rise across the country, despite the presence of about over 100,000 US-led troops.

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