US defense chief backs Obama's Afghan troop pullout plan

WASHINGTON - US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday firmly backed US President Barack Obama's plan to withdraw around a third of US forces from Afghanistan by the end of next summer.
"I support the president's decision because it provides our commanders with enough resources, time and, perhaps most importantly, flexibility to bring the surge to a successful conclusion," Gates, who steps down at the end of the month, said in a statement.
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