Image: US President Barack Obama delivers an address to the American people at Bagram Air Base in Kabul
Kevin Lamarque/Pool / EPA

TODAY   |  May 02, 2012

In  Afghanistan, Obama outlines future US role

On the one-year anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden, President Obama made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan and said his goal “to defeat al-Qaida and deny it a chance to rebuild is now within our reach.” NBC’s Atia Abawi reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> to begin with president obama 's surprise visit to afghanistan , and those overnight attacks in kabul . nbc's atia abawi is there. atia, good morning to you.

>> good morning, savannah. the taliban have claimed responsibility for an attack on a western compound in kabul this morning that killed six afghan civilians and one nepalese security guard . this came just hours after president obama departed afghanistan . the taliban do say that it was in response to the strategic partnership signed last night by the u.s. and afghan governments.

>> my fellow americans, we've traveled through more than a decade under the dark cloud of war, yet here, in the predawn darkness of afghanistan we can see the light of a new day on the horizon.

>> reporter: in a nationally televised speech from bagram air base , president obama declared an end in sight for the u.s. war in afghanistan .

>> one year ago, from a base here in afghanistan , our troops launched the operation that killed osama bin laden . the goal that i set to defeat al qaeda and deny it a chance to rebuild is now within our reach.

>> reporter: earlier, the president was greeted by u.s. military and diplomatic officials here as he began his surprise visit to afghanistan . he then flew to the capital of kabul , where he met with afghan president hamid karzai . the two signed a nine-page strategic partnership agreement, solidifying the u.s./afghan relationship and commitment through at least 2024 .

>> translator: -- the people of the united states , and to the people of afghanistan today, i thank you from the bottom of my heart.

>> reporter: the partnership includes u.s. assurances to assist the afghans on security, economics, and governance. but it also guarantees afghan sovereignty. the contract doesn't pledge a specific troop presence, but it does allow the u.s. to keep troops in the country beyond 2014 , and the official combat role comes to an end. those troops will be used to train the afghan forces and continue to fight on al qaeda . in his seven-hour stop, president obama also met with u.s. service members on base, and in the base's hospitals. thanking them for their service --

>> the final chapter of this war is written, historians will look back and say, not only was this the greatest fighting force in the history of the world , but all of you also represented the values of america in an exemplary way.

>> reporter: a key factor to the strategic agreement is to prove to the afghans, the americans, the international community and even the taliban that the u.s. is sticking to its word and that it will not abandon afghanistan after the combat role ends here. ann?