President Obama says he's confident the U.S. will be able to go ahead with its troop pullout plan from Afghanistan beginning in July 2011.

The president said at a news conference at the NATO summit in Portugal on Saturday that "we are in a better place now than we were a year ago."

He says the key is to keep making progress between now and next summer.

Obama also said it's time for the U.S. Senate to ratify a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia -- and there's no good reason for Republicans to delay it.

The president said that U.S. allies in Europe want the pact approved -- for their protection, not just America's protection.

Obama said there's no verification system in place now regarding Russian nuclear arsenals.

He says that would change if the treaty were ratified.

Obama also weighed in over the controversy surrounding the Transportation Security Administration's new airport security policies, saying he understands the frustrations of U.S. airline passengers who are subject to intrusive security screenings.

He says he's asked security officials whether there's a less intrusive approach.

But Obama says that security officials have told him that the current procedures are the only ones considered effective enough right now to guard against terrorist threats.

Obama doesn't have to pass through normal airport security himself, so he says he hasn't experienced the new patdowns and imaging devices now in use.