During a break in the G-20 Summit yesterday, President Barack Obama called Afghanistan a remaining crucial situation to national interests.
“I think that we’re going to need to provide assistance to Afghanistan for a long time to come,” he commented, explaining the “very poor country” will continue to need help even after its security forces are intact.
“So on a whole range of issues – from economic, development, setting up courts, setting up effective police forces, a political system that is transparent and fair, as well as with respect to security – we intend to be a partner with Afghanistan over the long term,” Obama said. “But that is different from us having troops on the ground.”
The president reassured the change in command from Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal to Army Gen. David H. Petraeus will have no negative impacts on U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and he expects significant progress by the end of the year.
However, he said U.S. policies in Afghanistan are complicated due to the debate over whether to pull the troops out or leave them as long as it takes to reach a positive outcome. The main thing on the president’s agenda, he explained, is ensuring Afghanistan does not remain a possible launchpad for terrorist attacks.
“I think we can make a difference, and the coalition can make a difference, in them meeting those aspirations even as we are meeting our security interests,” Obama said. “Those two things are tied together.”