Transcript: Obama’s remarks on NATO & Koran burning


Excerpt from White House press briefing held on March 6, 2012 – President Barack Obama’s remarks on NATO & Koran burning:

“Keep in mind that the transition policy was in place and established at Lisbon, and we’ve been following that strategy that calls for us turning over increasing responsibility to Afghans and a full transition so that our combat role is over by the end of 2014.  And our coalition partners have agreed to it.  They are sticking with it.  That continues to be the plan.

“What we are now going to be doing over the next — at this NATO meeting and planning for the next two years, is to make sure that that transition is not a cliff, but that there are benchmarks and steps that are taken along the way, in the same way that we reduced our role in Iraq so that it is gradual, Afghan capacity is built, the partnering with Afghan security forces is effective, that we are putting in place the kinds of support structures that are needed in order for the overall strategy to be effective.

“Now, yes, the situation with the Koran burning concerns me. I think that it is an indication of the challenges in that environment, and it’s an indication that now is the time for us to transition.

“Obviously, the violence directed at our people is unacceptable.  And President Karzai acknowledged that.  But what is also true is President Karzai I think is eager for more responsibility on the Afghan side.  We’re going to be able to find a mechanism whereby Afghans understand their sovereignty is being respected and that they’re going to be taking a greater and greater role in their own security.  That I think is in the interest of Afghans.  It’s also in our interests.  And I’m confident we can execute, but it’s not going to be a smooth path. There are going to be bumps along the road just as there were in Iraq.”


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