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Obama Says It's Premature To Declare Afghan Victory

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a press conference in the East Room of the White House on June 29.
U.S. President Barack Obama said today the U.S. mission in Afghanistan has been successful, but that he is not ready to declare victory just yet.

Obama told a White House news conference that the progress the military has made so far is allowing him to begin bringing troops home.

Obama last week announced plans for 33,000 U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan by the end of next summer. The first 10,000 troops will come home by the end of this year.

The president, however, vowed to keep the pressure on Al-Qaeda.

"What [U.S. forces] have been able to do is to severely cripple Al-Qaeda's capacities," he said. "Obviously, bin Laden got the most attention, but even before the bin Laden operation, we had decimated the middle ranks and some of the upper ranks of Al-Qaeda. They are having a great deal of difficulty operating, a great deal of difficulty communicating and financing themselves, and we are going to keep the pressure on."

Obama also said that Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, is "much safer than it was," despite a brazen Taliban attack on the city's Hotel Inter-Continental, in which 12 people and nine militants were killed.

compiled from agency reports