As Mitt Romney continues to attack President Barack Obama because of his “celebration” of Osama bin Laden’s death, the president is staying to true to his campaign slogan and moving “forward” with plans to seek peace in an Afghanistan still riddled with violence and discontent. He addressed the nation tonight at 7:30 p.m. EST, from Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, to discuss the strategic partnership agreement signed between the United States and Afghan governments.
President Obama met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai — who has been extremely vocal when expressing his anger that the United States armed forces have been operating as threats, not champions, for his people — at the presidential palace to hash out the terms of the continued, long-term involvement of U.S. military in Afghanistan:
The Pentagon reports:
The agreement charts the long-term relationship between the United States and Afghanistan after 2014. The agreement is meant to reassure Afghans that the United States will continue to support the nation in the decade ahead…
Defense Department officials have said a number of American service members will remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014 to advise and train Afghan soldiers and police.
According to a recent CNN poll taken in late March, 72% oppose of Americans oppose the war.
As previously reported by Newsone, the relationship between Karzai and Washington D.C. was already on rocky ground after U.S. soldiers “mistakenly” burned Qurans on a military base. President Obama was quick to offer his sincere apologies for the disrespectful act that sparked anti-US sentiment to dangerous levels and reciprocal violence that left at least 30 dead, including 2 U.S. soldiers.
Following that violent incident, U.S. staff sergeant, Robert Bales randomly opened fire on innocent Afghani civilians asleep in their homes. He has now been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, including 9 children and 3 women. At the time if the incident, an enraged Karzai said that he had “repeatedly asked U.S. soldiers to stop slaying innocent people” and demanded that NATO forces leave Afghan villages, stop carrying out night raids and withdraw to major bases.
“The Afghan government didn’t receive cooperation from the USA regarding the surrender of the US soldiers to the Afghan government, Karzai said. “This (civilian casualties) has been going on too long. This is by all means the end of the rope here.”
Concerning the actual murders, he made his position even more clear:
“This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be forgiven.”
He also called for a swift exit of western troops after seeing the images of U.S. troops posing with dead suicide bombers and calling it “disgusting.”
President Obama has agreed that the breakdown of trust has ruined any chance of the Taliban coming to the table for negotiations in the region and has said “now [is] the time to transition out of Afghanistan.”
Obama’s secret visit coincides with the one-year anniversary of the risky mission that killed al-Qaida notorious leader’s in Pakistan.
To watch the live feed, visit WhiteHouse.gov.
Read below for a full transcript of President Obama’s address:
Good evening from Bagram Air Base. This outpost is more than seven thousand miles from home, but for over a decade it has been close to our hearts. Because here, in Afghanistan, more than half a million of our sons and daughters have sacrificed to protect our country.
Today, I signed an historic agreement between the United States and Afghanistan that defines a new kind of relationship between our countries — a future in which Afghans are responsible for the security of their nation, and we build an equal partnership between two sovereign states; a future in which the war ends, and a new chapter begins.
Tonight, I’d like to speak to you about this transition. But first, let us remember why we came here. It was here, in Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden established a safe-haven for his terrorist organization. It was here, in Afghanistan, where al Qaeda brought new recruits, trained them, and plotted acts of terror. It was here, from within these borders, that al Qaeda launched the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children.