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Gates Says U.S. Troops Not Vacating Afghanistan Next Year


President Barack Obama speaks at a cabinet meeting in Washington in June as Defense Secretary Robert Gates looks on.

President Barack Obama speaks at a cabinet meeting in Washington in June as Defense Secretary Robert Gates looks on.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has said in a television interview that U.S. forces "are not leaving Afghanistan in July 2011."

Gates, speaking aired on ABC's "This Week," spoke of a "limited" withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan but said Taliban insurgents would not be able to wait out U.S. forces.

Gates said reductions in troop levels would depend on the success of efforts in Afghanistan.

"As we are successful, we'll probably accelerate [the withdrawal]," Gates said.

U.S. President Barack Obama appeared on CBS's "Early Show," saying the goals his administration has set for Afghanistan were attainable and realistic.

Obama and Gates spoke the same day that the Netherlands formally ended its troop deployment in Afghanistan.

The Netherlands' military chief, General Peter van Uhm, said the mission, which has lately involved around 1,950 troops, had achieved some successes in providing security improvements as well as advancements in health care, education and trade for residents of the southern Oruzgan Province.

During the four-year deployment in Afghanistan, at least 24 Dutch soldiers were reported killed.

The Netherlands is the first NATO country to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan.

NATO had asked the Netherlands to extend the mission by one year -- but the request led to a political row among politicians and the collapse of the Dutch government earlier this year.

compiled from agency reports
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