Obama confirms withdraw from Afghanistan

By Heather Scroering

By Heather Schroering, Valeria Fanelli, Kaitlyn Mattson & Julieta Sholinyan

President Barack Obama, speaking at the end of the two-day NATO summit in Chicago,  laid out several steps he said would lead to a successful transition from foreign to Afghan military control of the embattled country.

The president repeated the promise to return 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of the summer. He added that NATO leaders agreed that security forces would leave Afghanistan by 2014, and the Afghan military will take the lead of military operations in mid 2013.

Obama also said bringing the troops out of Afghanistan it is not going to be easy.

“I think it is a responsible work,” he said. “There are risks involved there, and I anticipate that over the next two years, there are going to be some bad moments, along with some good. There are going to be challenges.”

In respect to Pakistan, Obama said that during his brief discussion with President Asif Ali Zardari, the two agreed upon and emphasized that Pakistan must be part of the solution in Afghanistan.

“It is in our national interest to see a Pakistan that is democratic, that is prosperous and that is stable…that we share a common enemy and that the extremists are found not only in Afghanistan but in Pakistan,” Obama said. “We need to work through some of the tensions that have inevitably arisen after 10 years of our military presence in that region.”

Obama went on to state that President Zardari shared his belief that these issues can be worked through.

He also responded to a question in regards to an ad that his campaign released about Mitt Romney and Romney’s role as the head of a private equity firm. Obama responded by saying a president’s job is not to maximize profits but consider everybody and make sure that people have a fair shot.

“I think it is important to recognize that this issue is not ‘a distraction’ this is part of the debate we are going to be having in this election campaign,” he said. “About how do we create an economy where everybody, from top to bottom, folks on Wall Street and folks on Main Street have a shot at success.”

When asked about the image of Chicago during the NATO weekend and how it handled the demonstrations, Obama said he felt as if the city “performed magnificently.” He added that world leaders enjoyed their stay, and he encouraged shopping to increase the city’s economy.

Regarding the demonstrations, Obama commended Mayor Rahm Emanual as well as the Chicago Police Department’s performance while they were under much pressure. However, he said concerns of protests from those outside of Chicago were slim to be they are to be expected.

“In respect to the protests, this is part of what NATO defends, free speech and freedom of assembly,” Obama said. “Frankly…outside of chicago, folks weren’t that stressed about the possibility of having protesters here because that’s what America is about.”