Defense Secretary Robert Gates called for patience with the war in Afghanistan and said that only modest troop reductions would make sense this summer, as the country remains unstable. He said that much depends on whether Osama bin Laden’s death will create a new opening for peace negotiations with the Taliban insurgency; he said that there might be a possibility for such negotiations by the end of this year. However, he added, “Making any changes prior to that time would be premature.” A decision on U.S. troop reductions is expected within the next couple of weeks. Gates also stressed that a premature U.S. troop withdrawal could undermine battlefield gains and jeopardize a NATO-endorsed plan to remove all foreign combat troops by 2015.
Farewell Tour Paula Bronstein / Getty Images