US defense chief says al-Qaida's defeat 'within reach'

By REUTERS
July 9, 2011 16:32

KABUL - New US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in Afghanistan on Saturday, saying he believed the strategic defeat of al-Qaida was within reach if the United States could kill or capture up to 20 remaining leaders of the core group and its affiliates.

Panetta, on his first trip since taking over the Pentagon on July 1, told reporters before arriving in Kabul that now was the time -- in the wake of the May killing of Osama bin Laden -- to intensify efforts to target al-Qaida's leadership.

"We're within reach of strategically defeating al-Qaida and I'm hoping to be able to focus on that, working obviously with my prior agency as well," said Panetta, who ran the CIA until the end of June.


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