Our brave troops have now been fighting in the middle east for almost 19 years. In afghanistan and iraq, nearly 7,000 American heroes have given their lives. More than 52,000 Americans have been badly wounded. We have spent more than $7 trillion in the middle east. As a candidate for president, I loudly pledged a new approach. Great nations do not fight endless wars. When I took office, ISIS controlled more than 20,000 square miles in iraq and syria. Just two years ago. Today, we have liberated virtually all of that territory from the grip of these bloodthirsty killers. Now, as we work with our allies to destroy the remnants of ISIS, it is time to give our brave warriors in syria a warm welcome home. I have also accelerated our negotiations to reach a political settlement in afghanistan. The opposing side is also very happy to be negotiating. Our troops have fought with unmatched valor â€” and thanks to their bravery, we are now able to pursue a political solution to this long and bloody conflict.
In Afghanistan, my administration is holding constructive talks with a number of afghan groups, including the Taliban. As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism. And we will indeed focus on counterterrorism. We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement â€” but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace. And the other side would like to do the same thing. It is time.
Above all, friend and foe alike must never doubt this nationâ€™s power and will to defend our people. 18 years ago, violent terrorists attacked the uss cole â€” and last month American forces killed one of the leaders of the attack. We are honored to be joined tonight by Tom Wibberley, whose son, navy seaman Craig Wibberley, was one of the 17 sailors we tragically lost. Tom, we vow to always remember he heroes of the uss cole.
Afghan Government is not even part of the Peace talks!
Salam Hanafi, in Moscow once again publicly say: â€œThe Americans agreed to withdraw half of their troops immediately. The withdrawal will start from February 1 and continue until end of April,â€