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US Rules out Quick Afghan Withdrawal

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TEHRAN, June 10 (ICANA) – The US has ruled out a quick withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan, nearly three weeks before its forces are planned to pull out of the country.
Friday, June 10, 2011 7:54:32 PM
US Rules out Quick Afghan Withdrawal

During a meeting of defense ministers from the NATO military alliance in Brussels on Thursday, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates sought to alleviate fears that an expedited withdrawal of US troops could pose a serious threat to what he called military achievements gained in the country, AP reported.

"Even as the United States begins to draw down next month, I assured my fellow ministers that there will be no rush to the exits on our part and we expect the same from our allies," the Pentagon chief said.

His remarks ran counter to US President Barack Obama's promise that Washington will begin the drawdown of its troops in July amid opposition to the rising death toll among US-led troops as well as Afghan civilians in the conflict-ridden country.

Meanwhile, Germany, which has about 4,800 troops in Afghanistan, said that a hasty withdrawal of Americans could undermine NATO's strategy.

"We have some concerns that if it is too much, then the (Afghanistan) strategy cannot be implemented as agreed. We hope for a moderate step by the American president," German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere said after the NATO meeting.

"We want to end our combat mission by 2014. Beyond that time, there will be different forms of support, but towards the end of this year or the beginning of next year, if conditions allow, we'll start withdrawing," he noted.

NATO's Secretary General Andres Fogh Rasmussen echoed similar concerns, saying the US decision to begin withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan will be based on the security situation on the ground.

"There will be no rush for the exits. And that has been confirmed at today's meeting. On the contrary, all ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) partners will stay committed and see this through," Rasmussen said.

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