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Panetta: Strategic Defeat Of Al-Qaeda Within Reach


U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the "strategic defeat" of Al-Qaeda is "within reach."

Panetta made the statement today as he arrived on a surprise visit to Afghanistan.

He told reporters in Kabul "the key is that, having gotten [Osama] bin Laden, we've now identified some of the key leadership within Al-Qaeda, both in Pakistan as well as in Yemen and other areas."

He added, "If we can be successful at going after them, I think we can really undermine their ability to do any kind of planning."

Panetta, who took office on July 1 to replace Robert Gates, arrived in Kabul for a trip that will include talks with President Hamid Karzai over the transition of some NATO-held areas to Afghan control starting in mid-July.

compiled from agency reports

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