by Mark Silva and updated again at 9:05 pm EST
President Barack Obama, swiftly deploying an added 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan, told a national television audience tonight that Americans "have no interest in fighting an endless war'' and promised to begin withdrawing forces from the embattled nation in July 2011.
The surge of forces which Obama has ordered will raise the U.S. commitment to 98,000 troops by next summer, at an estimated added cost of about $30 billion a year. The pace of the subsequent draw-down, however, remains uncertain - depending on "conditions on the ground.''
Both the initial military boost and announced start of a planned withdrawal are intended to weaken and ultimately defeat the Taliban and to train Afghan security forces, administration officials say.
Their goal, the president said, is "to seize the initiative,'' finally, in a war that started on Sept. 11, 2001, and is not going well after eight years, build Afghanistan's capacity to secure itself and then allow for "a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan.''
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