By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the “strategic defeat” of Al-Qaeda is “within reach.”
Panetta made the statement today as he arrived on a surprise visit to Afghanistan.
He told reporters in Kabul “the key is that, having gotten [Osama] bin Laden, we’ve now identified some of the key leadership within Al-Qaeda, both in Pakistan as well as in Yemen and other areas.”
He added, “If we can be successful at going after them, I think we can really undermine their ability to do any kind of planning.”
Panetta, who took office on July 1 to replace Robert Gates, arrived in Kabul for a trip that will include talks with President Hamid Karzai over the transition of some NATO-held areas to Afghan control starting in mid-July.