"Obama said he is hopeful of the signing of the BSA as the two final candidates in the runoff presidential election have each indicated that they would sign the agreement promptly after taking office."
Washington, May 28 - US President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that he plans to keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
The troops will be reduced by roughly half by the end of 2015 and draw down to a normal embassy presence in Kabul by the end of 2016, Xinhua quoted Obama as saying at the White House.
After 2014, Obama said, US troops in Afghanistan will have two narrow missions: training Afghan forces and supporting counter-terrorism operations against the remnants of Al Qaeda.
We have now been in Afghanistan longer than many Americans expected, Obama said. Now we're finishing the job we started.
Acknowledging that Afghanistan will not be a perfect place, Obama added that it is not America's responsibility to make it one.
The president emphasised that the presence of US troops is tied to the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the Afghan government. Outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign the accord.
Obama said he is hopeful of the signing of the BSA as the two final candidates in the runoff presidential election have each indicated that they would sign the agreement promptly after taking office.
Calling the end of US mission in Afghanistan a new chapter in American foreign policy, Obama said it will allow the US to redirect some of the resources saved by ending these wars to respond more nimbly to the changing threat of terrorism, while addressing a broader set of priorities around the globe.