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US wants 'joint bases' in Afghanistan: Gates

June 9, 2011 - Washington

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said the country should maintain a long-term military presence in Afghanistan especially as a "tenant" on bases jointly occupied with Afghan forces, rather than on permanent US bases, after its combat mission ends.

"Bases that belong to one country in another country are always a magnet for trouble. Joint bases, from which U.S. troops could provide ongoing training and other assistance, would be "more tolerable to the Afghan people," the Washington Post quoted Gates, as saying.

The Obama administration has repeatedly said it plans no permanent bases in Afghanistan, but its negotiations with the Afghan Government about specific numbers, missions and locations have remained a secret.

Some Afghans, including senior officials, favor permanent bases as an expression of US commitment, while others have said they would prefer no US military presence.

The U.S.-Afghan agreement, similar in concept to one the United States signed with Iraq as it began to wind down its military presence there, is due to be completed this summer.


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