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Obama: Troops may remain in Afghanistan beyond war

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama says a small U.S. military force may remain in Afghanistan next year, but he's promising to declare an end to the 12-year war there at the end of 2014.

Obama said during his State of the Union speech Tuesday that Afghanistan will take responsibility for its own future after the end of the year.

He said any U.S. troops that remain beyond 2014 will only help continue to train Afghan forces and carry out counterterror operations against al-Qaida and other extremists.

Obama did not say how many troops might remain in Afghanistan after this year.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has so far refused to sign a security agreement with the U.S. that would allow American troops to remain.

Obama is also promising to improve American education from preschool to college in his State of the Union address.

Obama promised to connect 15,000 schools and 20 million students with high-speed broadband in the next two years. It's part of the goal he announced last summer to connect 99 percent of students in kindergarten through 12th grade with upgraded technology. Obama says the initiative will be supported by charitable partnerships with companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint and Verizon.

He also says his administration will award grants to redesign winning high schools to prepare students for today's job market. He also wants colleges to improve access for low-income students and lower costs. And he renewed his call from last year's address for Congress to fund universal preschool.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama says he doesn't expect Republicans to agree with his health care law, but he's urging his political opponents to give up their repeated attempts to do away with it.

Obama said in his State of the Union address that more than 40 votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act were plenty. He told members of Congress, quote, "We all owe it to the American people to say what we're for, not just what we're against."

He also used the opportunity in his high-profile speech to ask Americans to encourage those they know without insurance to sign up on government exchanges by the end of March. That's the deadline for Americans to get coverage or face a tax penalty.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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