Gates checks progress of the war in Afghanistan

13:54, March 09, 2010      

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U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in Afghanistan to check on the progress of the war, says the Marjah offensive is encouraging, but stopped short of saying that the war is at a turning point.

Afghan president Hamid Karzai talked about an action plan for reintegrating Taliban fighters into society.

Robert Gates, U.S. Defense Secretary, said, "Long term success will ultimately be determined by how well the Afghan government with the support of the international community can respond to the citizens of Afghanistan and inspire their loyalty."

Hamid Karzai, Afghan President, said, "Reconciliation will be with those Afghans or those Taliban and other elements who are Afghans, who have been forced into opposition, who are no ideological enmity with Afghanistan and its constitution and who are not part of al-Qaida network or other terrorist networks."

Also on Monday, Afghan police backed up by US troops killed two gunmen, who detonated a bomb in the eastern city of Khost, and then holed up in an unused police building.

The attackers were killed, and officials referred them to suicide attackers.

Officials say the attackers appeared to have mistakenly targeted an abandoned building, while the intended target may have been the police station next door.

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