US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Friday he hopes to be able to continue to reduce the number of US troops in Iraq over the next 10 months, even as he and his military commanders lean toward a pause in troop cuts in July.
Gates, who is travelling to Australia for defence and diplomatic meetings, told reporters traveling with him that he thinks a "brief pause" to evaluate the security situation in Iraq "is probably necessary in order to be able to assess the pacing of any subsequent drawdowns."
While Gates still would not say how long a brief interruption in troop cuts might be, his comments signalled that reductions could begin again before the end of the year.
He said, "I think my hope still is that we will be able to further draw down our troops in Iraq over the course of the next 10 to 12 months."
His comments came as he prepared for talks with new Australian government leaders who campaigned on a vow to pull roughly 550 of their combat troops out of Iraq.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Şubat 2008, 17:18