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Gates 'Profoundly Regrets' Civilian Casualties In Afghanistan

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that civilian casualties in Afghanistan are "losses we mourn and profoundly regret," but that it would be "premature" to change the war strategy in the country.

"I think that once you've committed, the success of the mission should override everything else because the most costly thing of all would be to fail." he said.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Kabul on June 4 with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Gates subsequently said that there will be "no rush to the exits" by the United States and other coalition partners in Afghanistan, but he added that their commitment is "not infinite."

He also said Afghan security forces must be able to ensure that the transition of security authority from foreign forces is a success.

Gates, who has served as U.S. Defense Secretary for more than four years, flew into Kabul today for a farewell visit to Afghanistan as he prepares to leave his post at the end of this month.

Gates was to visit some of the roughly 90,000 U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan as part of a 130,000-strong U.S.-led international force trying to stabilize the country.

compiled from agency reports