President Obama,speaking on Tuesday night from Bagram Air Base,declared that he had travelled here to herald a new era in the relationship between the US and Afghanistan,a future in which war ends,and a new chapter begins.
Obamas address,during an unannounced visit to sign a strategic partnership agreement with President Hamid Karzai that sets the terms for relations after the departure of US troops in 2014,was a chance for him to make a case that he is winding down an unpopular war.
My fellow Americans, he said,speaking against a backdrop of armoured military vehicles and an American flag,weve travelled through more than a decade under the dark cloud of war. Yet here,in the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan,we can see the light of new day on the horizon.
Obama also spoke of an enduring partnership with Afghanistan,invoking the agreement,which pledges US help for a decade in developing the Afghan economy and public institutions,though it makes no concrete financial commitments.
The agreement,Karzai said,opened a new chapter in the relationship between the US and Afghanistan.
Hours after Obama left the country,a suicide car bomber and Taliban militants disguised in burqas attacked a compound known as Green Village that houses hundreds of international contractors in Kabul. Seven people were killed,officials said. The Taliban said the attack was a response to Obamas visit. The insurgency also claimed their spring offensive would be renewed on Thursday.
Obama had said earlier,The goal I set to defeat al-Qaeda is now within our reach.