WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama offered strong praise Friday for this week's election in Afghanistan, calling it "an important step forward" in that nation's struggle for democracy and against ideological extremists.
"The future belongs to those who want to build, not ... destroy," Obama said at the White House.
The president said he was struck by the "courage in the face of intimidation" demonstrated by the millions of Afghans who went to the polls. He also emphasized that the United States does not favor any particular candidate.
"Our goal is clear: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and their extremist allies," he said.