Petraeus says Afghan withdrawal date flexible

Commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan downplays 2011 deadline in interview

In his first interview since taking over from Gen. Stanely McChristal, Gen. David Petraeus said the 2011 withdrawal date in Afghanistan is flexible. “In fact the president has been very clear, Vice President [Joe] Biden has been very clear as well more recently that this is a date when a process begins, that is conditions-based,” Petraeus said. “And as the conditions permit, we transition tasks to our Afghan counterparts and the security forces and in various governmental institutions, and that enables a quote ‘responsible’ draw-down of our forces.” Americans’ faith in the likelihood of success in Afghanistan is fading: last week an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll found 7 of 10 Americans weren’t expecting a good outcome. Petraeus, meanwhile, has emphasized it’s too early to predict what the situation will be like in a year and that the withdrawal should be understood as a “process, not an event, and that it’s conditioned-based.”


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