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Obama to stress jobs, Afghan war troop withdrawal

Published: Tue, February 12, 2013 @ 12:26 p.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Seeking to focus on nation-building at home, President Barack Obama will use his State of the Union address tonight to call for more spending on infrastructure and manufacturing, while also announcing the withdrawal of 34,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan within a year.

The highly anticipated announcement on the next phase of the troop withdrawal will cut the size of the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan in half by next February. The drawdown puts the U.S. on pace to formally finish the protracted war by the end of 2014.

A senior administration official confirmed the size of the troop drawdown on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss the announcement ahead of the president.

While Obama is expected to focus the bulk of his prime-time address to a joint session of Congress on the economy and job creation, other foreign policy priorities interjected in the hours before his speech.

North Korea said it successfully detonated a nuclear device today in defiance of U.N. warnings, and the White House said Obama would make the case that the nuclear program had only further isolated the impoverished nation.

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