- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 29, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the short-term objectives for U.S. forces in Afghanistan have narrowed under President Barack Obama’s new strategy.

Gates says the U.S. needs to focus its efforts on making headway and reversing the Taliban’s momentum, and strengthening the Afghan army and police _ while really going after al-Qaida.

The defense secretary says al-Qaida terrorists remain a serious threat. He says they retain the ability to plan attacks against the United States even though they have been inhibited over the past several years.

Gates says that a flourishing democracy in Afghanistan remains a long-term goal.

On Friday, Obama said the U.S. goal in Afghanistan is to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Gates appeared on “Fox News Sunday.”

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