WASHINGTON (AP) -- Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday the United States is setting up a $5 billion "terrorism partnership fund" to help other countries push back against radical extremists.<br />
Appearing on a host of network morning-show interviews, Kerry staunchly defended President Barack Obama's decision to terminate the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan by the end of the year.<br />
Referring in an NBC "Today" show interview to a speech Obama was set to give later Wednesday at the U.S. Military Academy,Kerry said Obama is telling the Afghans "by a specific time they have to take over management of their own security and military."<br />
The secretary said the message to Afghanistan is "we're not going to give you all the time in the world. You have to push the envelope."<br />
"This is not an abandonment of Afghanistan," Kerry said. "This is an emboldenment. This is an empowerment of Afghanistan."<br />
Appearing on "CBS This Morning," he said the withdrawal plan of the U.S. will allow this country to divert resources to the anti-terrorism fight in other parts of the world. Kerry said U.S. foreign policy needs to reflect a "rapidly changing, more complex world where terrorism is the principal challenge."<br />
Kerry called the Afghanistan troop withdrawal announcement "a statement of transition" and said that "if you tell the Afghans we'll be here as long as it takes, you can absolutely bet your bottom dollar they'll take as long as they want." The secretary also said "it is exactly what the American people have always sought in Afghanistan" and said "the Afghans want us to transition out."<br />
During his interview on ABC's "Good Morning America," Kerry was asked for an update on U.S. efforts to win the release of nearly 300 schoolgirls abducted by Islamic extremists in Nigeria. "We have people on th e ground and we're working hand in hand with Nigerians," he replied.
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
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