Obama: As Afghan war ends, time to rebuild US

President Obama on Saturday reiterated his commitment to ending the war in Afghanistan by the end of next year, and said it is time to focus on rebuilding the United States.

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Obama met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Friday and announced that by this spring, Afghan forces will take the lead for providing security across the entire country, with the U.S. military serving in an advisory role.

Obama said the war will be over by the end of 2014, but he did not rule out leaving residual troops in the country.

"This remains a very difficult mission," Obama said in his weekly radio address. "The work ahead will not be easy. Our forces are still in harm’s way. But make no mistake – our path is clear, and we are moving forward. Because after more than a decade of war, the nation we need to rebuild is our own."

Obama said the United States has a responsibility to care for returning troops and veterans. He promised to work to grow the economy, reduce the deficit and create jobs.

He also called for investments in infrastructure, and said he will push for immigration reform and action on climate change.

Obama also said the country will need to take action to "protect our children from the horrors of gun violence."

Vice President Joe Biden is leading a task force to study gun violence in the wake of the shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, and he is expected to issue recommendations next week.

"These, too, will be difficult missions for America. But they must be met," Obama said. "And if we can summon just a fraction of the determination of our men and women in uniform, I know we can meet them."

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