Gates calls for mounting pressure on Taliban
SHARAN (PAN): US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, calling for mounting military pressure on the Taliban to come to the negotiating table, said on Monday it was too early to withdraw forces from Afghanistan.
Currently on a farewell trip to Afghanistan, the outgoing secretary said the impact of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's death on the war in Afghanistan could not be predicted at this point in time.
Addressing US soldiers and marines in Sharan, the capital of Paktika, he underlined the need for pressuring the fighters into entering peace negotiations with the Afghan government.
"We have to keep them under pressure. We are not quite there yet," said Gates, who is due to retire as Pentagon chief at the end of the current month.
During a visit a day earlier to southern Kandahar province, the Taliban's spiritual base, he said: "No one wants to give up the gains that have been won at such a heavy cost, and nobody wants to give our allies the excuse to run for the exits."
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