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Afghan Election Commission Says Early Vote Not Possible

Afghanistan's election commission says presidential polls will be held on August 20 and not earlier as demanded by President Hamid Karzai.

Mr. Karzai has asked Afghan election officials to move up the election date from August to April - before his term ends in May.

The election commission said the election could not be held earlier because of bad spring weather, security issues and logistical problems.

The United States, and other Afghan groups said it would be difficult to arrange a fair, free and secure election in Afghanistan before August.

Earlier Wednesday, Afghanistan's Interior Minister Hanif Atmar said the police force would do their best to provide security but warned that Taliban militants would try to upset the election.

In related news, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said it is impossible to set a date for when international troops will withdraw from Afghanistan.

He said he did not see the mission in Afghanistan completed in the near future.

His French counterpart Herve Morin said NATO should stay in Afghanistan for as long as necessary, but not forever. The two spoke after meeting at the U.S. Department of Defense Tuesday.

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