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This is certainly an optimistic start to the new year. President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Friday that they had agreed to a slightly sped-up withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan—although Karzai declined to say how many U.S. troops will be left behind after the 2014 deadline. “Starting this spring our troops will have a different mission—training, advising, and assisting Afghan forces,” Obama said at a joint press conference. In a joint statement, the two said the Afghan Army is “exceeding initial exceptions” and the Afghan forces will be in a combat role throughout the country by this spring.