US has enormous respect for Afghan sovereignty: Obama

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Washington: US President Barack Obama today said America has enormous respect for the Afghan sovereignty and the dignity of its people and together the two nations are committed to "replacing war with peace".

"The US did not come here to claim resources or to claim territory. We came with a very clear mission: We came to destroy al-Qaeda. We have enormous respect for Afghan sovereignty and the dignity of the Afghan people. But together we`re now committed to replacing war with peace and pursuing a more hopeful future as equal partners," Obama said in his remarks after signing the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) in Kabul, arriving at the Bagram air base unaanounced.

Obama said he had come to Afghanistan to mark a historic moment for the two nations and to do so on Afghan soil.

"I`m here to affirm the bonds between our countries, to thank American and Afghans who have sacrificed so much over these last 10 years and to look forward to a future of peace and security and greater prosperity for our nations. Neither Americans nor the Afghan people asked for this war. Yet for a decade we`ve stood together to drive al-Qaeda from its camps, to battle an insurgency and to give the people of Afghanistan the possibility to live in peace and in dignity. The wages of war have been great for both our nations, but today with the signing of this strategic partnership agreement, we look forward to a future of peace," he said. .

The US President said the two nations have made progress together.

"We`ve reached an agreement to transition detention facilities to Afghan control and to put Afghans in the lead on special operations. And today we`re agreeing to be long-term partners in combating terrorism and training Afghan security forces and strengthening democratic institutions and supporting development and protecting human rights of all Afghans," he said.

With this agreement, the Afghan people and the world should know that Afghanistan has a friend and a partner in the United States, Obama asserted.

"There will be difficult days ahead, but as we move forward with our transition, I`m confident that Afghan forces will grow stronger, the Afghan people will take control of their future.

"We are committed to seeking a future of justice, peace, security and opportunity. I am confident that although our challenges are not yet behind us, that the future before us is bright," Obama said.

In his remarks, Karzai said the people of his country want to see the transition before 2014 — take the responsibility for the people of Afghanistan as one of their responsibility.

"With these, accepting this responsibility of security are all the forces who were in Afghanistan in past 10 years. They worked with us, helped us, supported us — go back to their country. And of course the people of Afghanistan will never forget their help and their support and also their relationship. With these countries, we will start a new start with these relationships, and we will continue with this relationship," Karzai said.

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