ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, June 7, 2010 — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said conversations he has had with his new British counterpart give him the sense that Great Britain’s new government “is quite resolute with respect to Afghanistan.”
The secretary spoke with reporters today while en route to London for meetings with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Foreign Secretary William Hague, and Defense Secretary Liam Fox.
Afghanistan is one of the most important topics he expects to discuss with Cameron, Gates said.
“But by the same token,” he added, “with all of the different issues that are on the table right now, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if we talk about Iran [or] if we talk about North Korea, and the new British government is just getting a new strategic review under way, and we may talk a little bit about that.”
During a recent security summit in Singapore, Gates asked U.S. Asian and Pacific partners for more help in training Afghan soldiers and police. Great Britain, the secretary said today, has provided exemplary support for the mission in Afghanistan.
“I think with 9,500 soldiers in Afghanistan, that the United Kingdom has done everything anybody could expect of it,” Gates said, “so I will not be making any further requests of the U.K. I think they’ve really stepped up and, as usual, have been an admirable partner.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)