Obama to flag troop pull-outs in State of the Union address

Obama to flag troop pull-outs in State of the Union address

Obama to flag troop pull-outs in State of the Union address

Updated 13 February 2013, 10:49 AEDT

US president Barack Obama is set to reveal that over half of America's troops in Afghanistan will be home by this time next year.

US president Barack Obama is set to reveal that over half of America's troops in Afghanistan will be home by this time next year.

The US has 66,000 troops in Afghanistan and is set to hand over responsibility for security to local forces by the end of next year.

Mr Obama is expected to use today's State of the Union address at 1:00pm (AEDT) to announce that 34,000 troops will be out of the country by next February.

But economic issues are expected to dominate the address, given to a joint session of Congress and broadcast to a huge television audience.

The president is expected to pack his speech with ideas to create jobs, partly through investments in government-funded infrastructure projects.

Domestic initiatives on immigration reform, gun control and clean energy are also expected to be covered.

Mr Obama will also likely respond to a demand for attention from North Korea, which interrupted the rollout of his showpiece annual speech by igniting another overseas crisis with its underground nuclear test.

He is likely to replicate his initial statement on the North Korea crisis, in which he vowed a staunch defence of US allies in Asia and called for swift and credible international action to respond to Pyongyang's provocation.

The speech will take place in the shadow of Mr Obama's row with Republicans over huge budget cuts due to hit in March 1, which could hammer the economy.

ABC/AFP