Defense Secretary Robert Gates' unannounced trip to Afghanistan included a press conference with Karzai on Monday, in which he apologized for the recent accidental killing of nine Afghan boys in a NATO strike. "Not only is their loss a tragedy for their families, it is a setback for our relationship with the Afghan people," Gates told a media conference with Karzai. The Afghan president had previously voiced his anger on the eve of Gates' visit, rejecting the earlier apology of General David Petraeus, commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Gates, who is expected to visit parts of southern and eastern Afghanistan where NATO has reportedly weakened the Taliban, also said, "While no decisions on numbers have been made, in my view we will be well-positioned to begin drawing down some U.S. and coalition forces this July even as we redeploy others to different areas of the country."
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