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Obama Calls For Special Counterterrorism Fund

  • RFE/RL

In a wide-ranging foreign-policy speech, U.S. President Barack Obama has stressed that the greatest threat to the United States and to the world today comes from terrorism.

Obama, in a May 28 speech at the West Point Military Academy, highlighted the United States' continued leadership in the world, but argued for restraint and international cooperation before embarking on military action.

The president also called upon U.S. lawmakers to approve the creation of a new Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund of up to $5 billion, which he said "will allow us to train, build capacity, and facilitate partner countries on the front lines."

Washington on May 27 outlined a plan to pull out all but 9,800 U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by the end of the year and most of the rest by 2016, ending more than a decade of U.S. military engagement.

Obama said on May 28 that bringing the war effort in Afghanistan to an end would free up financial resources to fight threats in other parts of the world.

Obama said today's main terrorist threat comes from decentralized Al-Qaeda affiliates and extremists.

He revealed that the new fund would be used to help train security forces in Yemen, support a multinational peacekeeping contingent in Somalia, cooperate with NATO allies to train security forces in Libya, and to aid the French effort in Mali.

WATCH: U.S. President Barack Obama says that under U.S. leadership, the international community united in condemning Russian actions in Ukraine.
Obama's speech was the first in a series of addresses on U.S. foreign policy over the next several days, in an effort to placate critics who say U.S. foreign policy is weak.

Obama said the United States would use military force "unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it."

But Obama said use of military force must be prudent. "Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail," he said.

Instead, Obama highlighted the need for international cooperation under U.S. leadership. He said such leadership had helped bring Iran to negotiate on nuclear issues.

"For the first time in a decade, Obama said, the world has "a very real chance of achieving a breakthrough agreement" in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

WATCH: U.S. President Barack Obama says there is "a very real chance of achieving a breakthrough agreement" with Iran regarding its nuclear program.
Obama also said that under U.S. leadership, the world immediately united in "condemning Russian actions in Ukraine."

Referring to the 3-year-old civil war in Syria, Obama pledged to "ramp up support" for the opposition, without offering details.

Obama also pledged he will continue his efforts to shut down the U.S. detention facility in Cuba.

"I will continue to push to close Guantanamo Bay," he said, "because American values and legal traditions don’t permit the indefinite detention of people beyond our borders."

WATCH: U.S. President Barack Obama says "empowering partners is a large part of what we’ve done in Afghanistan" and called on Afghan security forces to sustain progress made against the country's insurgency.
The U.S. president also tackled the dispute over the secret government surveillance programs that gathered information on e-mails, phone calls, and Internet use in the United States and around the world.

"We are putting in place new restrictions on how America collects and uses intelligence -- because we will have fewer partners and be less effective if a perception takes hold that we are conducting surveillance against ordinary citizens," he said.

Obama next week embarks on a trip to Europe, during which he will speak about continued U.S. commitment to Europe in Warsaw, meet with the G7 leaders in Brussels, and mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy.