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September 03, 2010

US Will not Repeat the Mistake of Turning its Back on Afghanistan

US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates emphasized that the US learned a lesson in turning its back on Afghanistan in 1989, and said they had no intention of doing so again.

Talking to reporters following a meeting with President Karzai, Secretary Gates said the US would stay in Afghanistan after July 2011, when the gradual and conditions-based withdrawal of US troops would begin. He repeated President Obama’s stance and intention that said US will not be turning off the lights next July, but rather staying engaged in fighting the Taliban.

Secretary Gates stated that the long term commitment of the United States to the people of Afghanistan and their security will remain strong and enduring.

Pointing to the issue of the sources of terrorism, the US Defense Secretary said, “We will continue to work with the Pakistani government to deny safe havens to those who launch attacks inside Afghanistan”

In reference to Afghanistan’s concerns over civilian casualties during military efforts, Secretary Gates said progress was being made in reducing casualties among ordinary Afghans and said they would continue to make every effort to avoid innocent victims in the operations.

In response to a question about the need to fight corruption, Secretary Gates said any anti corruption effort in Afghanistan has to be led by the government of Afghanistan as a sovereign state and an elected government and the US would provide any support needed.

Talking in the same joint conference, President Hamid Karzai in response to a question about Afghanistan’s demand of a review to the war strategy said he discussed the issue with US Secretary and earlier with President Obama on the need to target the sources and sanctuaries of terrorists for an effective war and said both were of a common view.

President Karzai said his government will fight corruption, but that it must be done in accordance with Afghan law. The President said, “We should fight corruption, but corruption must be fought legally and correctly, not in manner of banditry or a violation of the rights of the people”.


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