‘Won’t let Afghan serve as terrorist safe haven: Obama

WASHINGTON/KABUL: Outlining his long-term commitment to Afghanistan, US President Barack Obama has said that his administration will never let the war-torn country become a safe haven for terrorists as happened in the past.

“We will never let this country serve as a safe haven for terrorists who would attack the United States of America again. That will never happen,” Obama said in his address to US troops at Bagram Air Base near Kabul, where he paid a short unannounced visit last evening.

“This part of the world is the centre of a global effort where we are going to disrupt and dismantle and defeat al- Qaeda and its extremist allies. That’s why you’re here.

That’s why your mission matters so much. That’s why you must succeed — because this effort is about the safety of our communities back home and the dignity of the Afghan people who don’t want to live in tyranny,” he asserted.

Obama noted that one year ago, he had ordered additional troops to serve in Afghanistan, a country that was the staging ground for the 9/11 attacks in the US.

“All of those troops are now in place. And thanks to your service, we are making important progress. You are protecting your country. You’re achieving your objectives. You will succeed in your mission,” he said during the visit that last a few hours.

“We said we were going to break the Taliban’s momentum, and that’s what you’re doing. You’re going on the offence, tired of playing defense, targeting their leaders, pushing them out of their strongholds. Today we can be proud that there are fewer areas under Taliban control and more Afghans have a chance to build a more hopeful future,” Obama said.

He said that the American troops were helping build the capacity of the Afghan people, meeting recruitment targets, training Afghan forces and partnering with those Afghans who want to build a stronger and more stable and prosperous Afghanistan.

Warning that this is a tough fight, Obama said: “As your Commander-in-Chief, I also want you to know that we will do whatever it takes to make sure that you have the strategy and the resources and the equipment and the leadership to get this done.”