US, British defense chiefs discuss Libya, Afghanistan

Updated: 2011-04-27 08:14


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WASHINGTON - US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday met with his British counterpart Liam Fox, and the two focused their discussions on the situation in Libya, Syria and Afghanistan.

Fox and Gen. Sir David Jackson of the British army met with Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, in Washington, DC.

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"Our talks included military operations over Libya, where the US continues to be in a supporting role in the NATO-led campaign, along with our Arab allies," Gates told reporters after the meeting. "We talked about the way ahead in Afghanistan, where more than 9,000 British troops are in the thick of the fight."

Afghanistan is the main theater of operations for US and British efforts, Fox said. About 100,000 American servicemembers and 9,000 British troops are in Afghanistan.

"We discussed how the process of transition was moving forward, and increasingly, while we have control of the military space in Afghanistan, the situation in the political space becomes of ever greater importance," Fox said.

The Obama administration announced in late 2009 that the United States would begin to withdraw from Afghanistan in July 2011, but more and more people have been speculating that the drawdown would only be symbolic.

The defense chiefs also played down the possibility of a Libya-style intervention in Syria.

"We can't do everything all the time and we have to recognize that there are practical limitations to what our countries can do, " said Fox.


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