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Obama says he'll announce Afghan plan after Thanksgiving

The president says his strategy will include military, diplomatic and civilian initiatives designed to 'finish the job' in Afghanistan. Aides say the announcement could come as early as Tuesday.

November 24, 2009|By Christi Parsons

Reporting from Washington — President Obama says he will deliver a plan to "finish the job" in Afghanistan directly to the American people after Thanksgiving, along with an explanation of the strategy he has been working for months to forge.

The new strategy will put an end to the situation of the last eight years in which the war was waged without the full "resources or strategy to get the job done," the president told reporters this morning at the White House..

"I feel very confident when the American people hear a clear rationale for what we're doing there and how we intend to achieve our goals," Obama said, "they will be supportive."

Aides to the president say he is likely to announce his plan in a televised address to the nation, possibly as early as Tuesday.

Obama is expected to make clear at that time how many new troops he plans to deploy to the region, where his ground commander says at least 40,000 additional military personnel are necessary for success.

But Obama also plans to unveil a new strategy, which he said this morning would involve not just a military solution but a diplomatic and civilian one, as well.

The remarks came after his morning meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who stood at Obama's side, nodding as the American president spoke of the shared commitment to fighting extremism.

The effort is important not just to the U.S., Obama said, but to the world.

"The whole world has a core security interest in making sure the kind of extremism and violence emanating from this region is tackled," he said. "We have to do it as part of a broader international community.

One of the things Obama said he will discuss is "the obligation of our international partners in the process," as well as the responsibility of the Afghan people to "provide for their own security."

After their morning meeting, Obama announced that he will travel to India next year at the invitation of Singh and he lauded the relationship between the two countries as "one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century."

Singh said the two men had had a "productive exchange of views" related to terrorism and that they'd also made progress toward agreement on mitigating climate change.

Singh nodded his assent as the president announced the end of his long-running deliberations about what to do in Afghanistan, a series of talks that wound down Monday night with at least the ninth meeting of his war council.

After eight years that saw periods without resources and strategy to get the job done, Obama said, "it is my intention to finish the job."

"I think the review we've been through has been extremely comprehensive and useful," Obama said, arguing that is it "in our strategic interests" to make sure Al Qaeda can't operate in the region and to dismantle and destroy their networks.

He would only say his announcement will come "after Thanksgiving," but promised that, when the time comes, his administration will answer questions to the satisfaction of anyone who asks.

christi.parsons@tribune.com

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