Obama Discusses Troop Drawdown with his Afghan Commander

Posted June 16th, 2011 at 4:30 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama has met with his top Afghanistan commander to discuss plans for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said General David Petraeus met with the president Wednesday. Carney said they discussed a “broad array” of options for the drawdown of troops. He did not provide any new details about a timeline for the withdrawal.

President Obama has called for U.S. forces to begin pulling out of the country in July, with all combat troops set to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

On Thursday, Mr. Obama's defense secretary bid farewell to the post.

In his final news conference, Robert Gates spoke positively about the success of the war in Afghanistan and the importance of the U.S. relationship with Pakistan. Mr. Obama has chosen CIA director Leon Panetta to take over at the Pentagon.

Gates told reporters that military operations in Afghanistan are pushing back the Taliban, keeping them from controlling populated areas, and improving the capabilities of Afghan national security forces.

He said the U.S. relationship with Pakistan is “complicated” but critical. Gates said both countries “need each other,” and that the need extends beyond operations in Afghanistan. He said if the U.S. were to “walk away” from its alliance with Pakistan, the region would risk becoming much more dangerous to U.S. security interests.

Relations between the two countries have been tense since U.S. commandos raided Osama bin Laden's hideout near Islamabad and killed the al-Qaida leader.

Pakistan received $2.7 billion in security-related assistance from the United States in the fiscal year that ended last September. It is the third-largest recipient of U.S. security aid and reimbursements, after Afghanistan and Israel.

Some U.S. lawmakers have threatened to cut off funding after the recent tensions between the two governments.