Obama: Still on track to remove Afghanistan troops

By the Associated Press | September 30, 2011 | 5:40 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says he still intends to withdraw 33,000 troops from Afghanistan next year and says the administration's strategy for winding down the war remains unchanged.

Obama made his declaration in a letter to congressional leaders Friday. The letter accompanied a semi-annual report assessing the administration's policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The letter reports improvement in the fight against al-Qaida, a reversal in the Taliban's momentum in Afghanistan and headway in the training of Afghan security forces.

The report is less upbeat about Pakistan, citing continued U.S.-Pakistan strains over the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

There is no mention of the links that U.S. official have alleged between Pakistan intelligence and the Haqqani insurgent network. But the report contains two classified annexes that were not made public.