WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday said in his State of the Union address that over the next year, another 34,000 U.S. troops will withdraw from Afghanistan.
"Tonight, I can announce that over the next year, another 34,000 American troops will come home from Afghanistan," said Obama. "This drawdown will continue. And by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over."
Obama said he is confident that the United States will complete its mission in Afghanistan, and achieve its objective of defeating the core of the terrorist group al Qaeda. All U.S. combat troops are slated to withdraw by end of 2014, after transferring security lead to the Afghans.
The announcement was significant because it sets the pace of U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in the next two years. Altogether, about 33,000 U.S. troops have withdrawn from that country under Obama's watch, after he increased the number of troops in his first term.
Beyond 2014, Obama said the United States will continue its commitment to Afghanistan, "but the nature of our commitment will change," as the two countries negotiate a bilateral security agreement that would define the future U.S. role in Afghanistan.
Obama said the agreement would focus on two missions: training and equipping Afghan forces so that the country would not again slip into chaos, and counter-terrorism efforts that allow the United States to pursue the remnants of al Qaeda and their affiliates.