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Not time yet to get out of Afghanistan: Gates

world Updated: Sep 04, 2009 11:19 IST
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As an increasing number of Americans appear to be turning against the war in Afghanistan, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates today said the time was not yet right for the US to get out of the war-ravaged country.

“I absolutely do not think it is time to get out of Afghanistan,” Gates said at a joint Pentagon news briefing with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen.

“In the context of the President’s goal of disrupting, dismantling and destroying al Qaeda, we seek an Afghanistan that is our partner in that endeavour and that can sustain that endeavour after we’re gone,” he said.

He said intelligence continues to support that al Qaeda and its extremist affiliates like Taliban still targeted America and other Western countries.

“That has not abated and it is not going to go away, based on anything that I have seen. They thrive in ungoverned spaces,” Mullen pitched in response to a question.

Earlier Gates said he has send to the White House US and NATO forces commander in Afghanistan, General McChrystal’s assessment on the country, and soon he will be sending his point of view on the report and the recommendations.

On a question on eroding public support on Afghan war, Gates said this was not surprising given the country has been into war foe eight years now. Recent polls have shown that an increasing number of Americans believe the Afghan war is not worth fighting.