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Obama: No Change in US Afghan Policy


U.S. President Barack Obama says the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan will remain the same despite his decision to replace the top general leading the war effort.

President Obama spoke at a news conference with Russian President Dimitri Medvedev Thursday, a day after accepting General Stanley McChrystal's resignation and replacing him with U.S. Central Command chief David Petraeus.

President Obama said he is insisting on a unity of purpose in Afghanistan. He said he is confident General Petraeus understands the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan because he helped to shape it.

Earlier Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said he fully supports the president's decision to replace McChrystal with Petraeus.

Gates said his primary focus remains to ensure U.S.-led success in Afghanistan, and he is confident NATO forces will be able to achieve this under Petraeus' command.

The defense secretary spoke alongside Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who also pledged his support for the president's decision.

Mullen said there is no excuse for McChrystal's lack of judgment with respect to the magazine article in which McChrystal and his aides mocked members of the Obama administration.

Mullen also said the U.S. mission and overall strategy in Afghanistan will remain unchanged.

General Petraeus' appointment to lead American forces in Afghanistan must be ratified by the U.S. Senate, and the Armed Services committee chief says a confirmation hearing will be held no later than Tuesday.

British Lieutenant General Nick Parker, who will lead NATO troops in Afghanistan until Petraeus is confirmed, says international forces are still focused on defeating the insurgency and building a strong national security force.

McChrystal was summoned to Washington and submitted his resignation Wednesday, following the publication of a profile in Rolling Stone magazine, titled "The Runaway General."

The article cited informal conversations in which General McChrystal and his aides made numerous sarcastic and dismissive references to Vice President Joe Biden, National Security Adviser James Jones and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, among others.

Before leaving for Washington to meet with President Obama, McChrystal said the profile was a mistake that never should have happened.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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