Obama Meets with New Afghanistan Team, Defense Secretary

Posted July 5th, 2011 at 9:45 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama met with his new Afghanistan team and new Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Tuesday to discuss the U.S. civilian and military effort in Afghanistan.

Lieutenant General John Allen, who takes over leadership of the U.S. and NATO command from General David Petraeus, and new U.S. Ambassador to Kabul Ryan Crocker will implement the U.S. strategy in that war-torn country.

Also present were Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen and Vice President Joe Biden.

The White House did not provide media access, but press secretary Jay Carney said after the meeting that the president and his team discussed implementation of the next phase of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.

Carney said it includes consolidation of the gains that have been made in breaking the Taliban's momentum, training Afghan security forces, the reduction of U.S. troop levels, and the process of transitioning lead security responsibility to the Afghan government.

Mr. Obama met separately with Defense Secretary Panetta, who as CIA director played a key role in the planning and intelligence gathering that led to the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden on May 2 in northern Pakistan.

General Petraeus, who was confirmed last week by the U.S. Senate to head the CIA, said in Kabul the focus of U.S. and NATO military efforts against Taliban militants will shift from southern Afghanistan to the eastern border with Pakistan.