By Meghashyam Mali - 05/20/12 09:37 PM EDT
President Obama declared Sunday that the Afghan war "as we understood it is over" and that the country was on track to achieve a "transformational decade" of peace.
"The Strategic Partnership Agreement, this NATO summit, are all part and parcel of a shared vision that we have in which Afghanistan is able to transition from decades of war to a transformational decade of peace and stability and development," said Obama after a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Chicago, where the leaders are attending the NATO summit.
“The NATO Summit is going to be largely devoted to ratifying and reflecting the broad consensus that so many of our partners and ISAF members have agreed to," Obama said. "One in which we are working with the Afghans over the next several years to achieve a complete transition to Afghan lead for Afghan security.
The president pledged that the U.S. would continue to provide support for Afghan forces, whom he said had made “excellent progress over the last several years.”
“The Afghan war as we understand it is over, but our commitment to friendship and partnership with Afghanistan continues," Obama said.
But the president still faces doubts from many lawmakers, including Democrats who fear the U.S. has agreed to an open-ended commitment to supporting the Afghan government.
On Thursday, House members rejected a Democratic amendment to the Defense Authorization Act which would have required the U.S. to only use funds dedicated to the Afghan mission for the withdrawal of troops from that country.
In his remarks Sunday, Karzai said the Afghan people were "fully aware of the task ahead and of what Afghanistan needs to do to reach the objectives that we all have of a stable, peaceful and self-reliant Afghanistan."
Karzai offered the thanks of the Afghan people to the U.S. for "the support that your taxpayers’ money has provided us over the past decade, and for the difference that it has made to the well-being of the Afghan people, to our education and health and the building of the Afghan government."