U.S. Army General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. and NATO military operations in Afghanistan, says he sees "areas of progress" in the Afghan war -- but that it still unclear whether America will be able to fulfull President Barack Obama's goal of starting to withdraw U.S. troops in July, 2011.
In an interview on August 15 on U.S. television's "Meet The Press" program, Petraeus said the battle against Taliban militants was an "up and down process" and it remains too early to determine how successful it will be.
Speaking about the possibility of starting a U.S. troop withdrawal in July, 2011, Petraeus said: "This is a date [July, 2011] when a process begins that is conditions-based. As the conditions permit, we transition tasks to our Afghan counterparts and the security forces and in various governmental institutions, and that enables a responsible drawdown of our forces."
Petraeus added that President Obama has made clear that any withdrawal must be based on whether the right conditions are in place.
But U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on August 16 reiterated that the July 2011 date to start withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan was set in stone.
Gates told the "Los Angeles Times" that "there is no question in anybody's mind that we are going to begin drawing down troops in July of 2011."
compiled from agency reports