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Al-Qaeda threat evolving, Obama says

The threat from US arch foe Al-Qaeda is evolving and taking root in new places around the world, US President Barack Obama warned on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON: The threat from US arch foe Al-Qaeda is evolving and taking root in new places around the world, US President Barack Obama warned on Tuesday.

"In Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, and Mali, we have to keep working with partners to disrupt and disable these networks," Obama told US lawmakers in his annual State of the Union address, adding the United States had put "Al-Qaeda's core leadership on the path to defeat."

"In Syria, we'll support the opposition that rejects the agenda of terrorist networks. Here at home, we'll keep strengthening our defenses, and combat new threats like cyberattacks.

"And as we reform our defense budget, we have to keep faith with our men and women in uniform, and invest in the capabilities they need to succeed in future missions."

United Afghanistan

With Afghan forces in charge of their own security and more than 60,000 US troops already back home from Afghanistan, Obama declared that the Afghan war was finally drawing to a close.

"Together with our allies, we will complete our mission there by the end of this year, and America's longest war will finally be over."

Obama added that the United States would continue to support a "unified Afghanistan as it takes responsibility for its own future." 

If Kabul signs a US-Afghan security agreement, a small US force could remain in Afghanistan with NATO allies to train and assist Afghan security forces, and conduct "counter-terrorism operations to pursue any remnants of Al-Qaeda."

"For while our relationship with Afghanistan will change, one thing will not: our resolve that terrorists do not launch attacks against our country," said President Obama.

Obama also urged Congress to lift remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and close the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison. 

"We close the prison at Guantanamo Bay -- because we counter terrorism not just through intelligence and military action, but by remaining true to our Constitutional ideals, and setting an example for the rest of the world," declared President Obama.

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