Obama, Cameron Reaffirm Alliance, Discuss Afghanistan, Syria, Iran
In talks at the White House on Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron reaffirmed plans to shift military operations to a support role in Afghanistan next year, ahead of a planned withdrawal of foreign forces in 2014. The two leaders also discussed Syria, and mounting pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.
After about two hours of talks, including a 30-minute, private session in the Oval Office, both men faced reporters in the White House Rose Garden.
In reference to the killing of 16 Afghan civilians allegedly by a U.S. soldier, Mr. Obama said “tragic events” in Afghanistan in recent days are a reminder of the difficulty of the allied mission there. But, he said, it is undeniable that “very real progress” is being made.
The two leaders reaffirmed the plan to transition security to Afghan authorities by 2014. President Obama said the NATO summit he will host in Chicago in May will determine the next phase of the operation.
“We are going to complete this mission and we are going to do it responsibly,” said President Obama. “And NATO will maintain an enduring commitment, so that Afghanistan never again becomes a haven for al-Qaida to attack our countries.”
Mr. Obama and Mr. Cameron reiterated support for a negotiated Afghan political settlement. Mr. Cameron said the aim is not to build a “perfect Afghanistan,” but to foster a country that is able to stand on its own.