President Obama remains committed to beginning a withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan next July, a White House spokesman said on Monday, playing down recent remarks by the American military commander in Afghanistan that he might recommend a delay if conditions warrant.
“The date is not negotiable,” the deputy press secretary, Bill Burton, told reporters aboard Air Force One at the start of a three-day campaign-style swing around the country by the president.
Mr. Burton was referring to remarks by General David Petraeus in several interviews on Sunday in which he opposed the rapid pullout from Afghanistan, as many Democrats would like.
In an interview with The New York Times, the general argued against any precipitous withdrawal of forces by July 2011, the date set by Mr. Obama to begin at least a gradual reduction of the 100,000 troops on the ground.
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