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Decisions Will Pave Path to End War, Obama Says

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2009 – A range of decisions still remain for President Barack Obama and his administration to finalize the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, the president said in Beijing today.

In separate interviews with traveling press, Obama said Afghans have to be responsible for their own security and Pakistan has to be more effectively involved.

“There are a range of things that we know we have to do,” the president told CBS correspondent Chip Reid. “At this point, it’s a matter of fine-tuning a strategy that we can be confident will be successful and also won’t be open-ended.”

Obama has endured complaints that the process for deciding the way forward in Afghanistan is taking too long. Underscoring the importance of the decision, today he said, "This decision will put us on a path towards ending the war."

The overall goal in Afghanistan is national security, protecting U.S. allies and American interests around the globe, Obama said. Also, Afghanistan must be stable enough to eventually create a smaller U.S. footprint there.

The president also cited his anger about the recent information leaks regarding the Afghan strategy discussions, calling them inappropriate because of the seriousness of the matter and the lives at risk. The source of the leaks will “absolutely” be fired, he said.

“We have these deliberations in the Situation Room for a reason, because we’re making decisions that are life-and-death, that affect how our troops are going to able to operate,” he said.

However, the president said, he is confident he’ll be able to present a strategy to the American people that will be responsible. The decision will be announced over the next several weeks, he said.

“At the end of this process, I’m going to be able to present … in very clear terms, what exactly is at stake, what we intend to do, how we’re going to succeed, how much it’s going to cost, how long it’s going to take,” he told Chuck Todd with NBC. “I think that’s what is owed the American people, because frankly, over the last several years, that’s not what they’ve gotten.”

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