Washington, D.C. Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged military leaders from the Persian Gulf region to help with security and development of Afghanistan, saying there is only a “fleeting opportunity” now to turn the stalemated war around.
Speaking at a conference in downtown Washington, Gates called the ongoing Pakistan military offensive against insurgents “an encouraging first step” by a government that had long tilted the readiness of its armed forces toward a possible conflict with nuclear neighbor India.
“Also encouraging is the support Afghanistan has received from other nations, including members of the Gulf community,” Gates told military officials from a dozen nations including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Kuwait, Jordan and Iraq.
But he encouraged other countries to do more to improve Afghan governance, security, development and reconstruction. “The application of more resources, improved cooperation, a better integrated civil, military and diplomatic strategy — and the benefit of lessons learned both in-country and in Iraq — present a historic but fleeting opportunity to turn the situation in Afghanistan around,” Gates said.