U.S. defense secretary refuses to set date for troops withdrawal from Afghanistan
The U.S. defense secretary said on Tuesday that it is still too early to set a date for U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, where insurgency is revived, Xinhua reported.
Robert Gates, the Pentagon chief, told a press conference after meeting his French counterpart that he thinks it is impossible to put a date "on when you might firmly say all the troops are coming out."
"We would all like to have a situation in which our mission in Afghanistan has been completed and we can bring our troops home," he said. "I do not see that happening anytime in the near future."
Last month, President Barack Obama approved the deployment of 17,000 extra U.S. troops to Afghanistan, where there are over 30,000 American soldiers currently.
However, the president noted that the government's policies towards Afghanistan is still under review to decide the goals of the war and how to achieve them.
"And I think we will have a much better idea of the way forward, at least as far as the United States is concerned, when that review is complete," Gates said.
The visiting French defense chief, Herve Morin, told press that his country agrees to make a strategy with clearly-defined objectives.
Currently, France has more than 3,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan.
The U.S. has been seeking help and support from its NATO allies in the Afghanistan war that is considered as the frontline of the U.S. anti-terrorism efforts.
The White House said earlier on Tuesday that Vice President Joe Biden is to visit Brussels, Belgium, and talk with NATO allies on the Afghanistan and Pakistan issues next week.
"The purpose of his trip is to consult with allies on Afghanistan and Pakistan and to ensure that their views help inform the strategic review ordered by President Obama," it said in a statement.