U.S. 'on track' to withdraw from Afghanistan

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White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that the Obama administration's planned drawdown of troops from Afghanistan is "on track", as speculations erupted that the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden might change the schedule.

The plan is on track to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in July, Carney told reporters at the White House.

The implementation of the plan depends on conditions on the ground in Afghanistan, he added.

The killing of bin Laden occurred at a crucial time when the Pentagon officials and military commanders are working on the pace of the troop drawdown while huge differences still exist.

Some military commanders express concern over a quick drawdown that they say might undermine the security gains the U.S. and NATO forces have already gained, while anti-war liberals demand "robust " drawdown of troops.

Both sides of the aisle are trying to exploit the death of bin Laden. Those who demand quick withdrawal said there is no reason for longer U.S. presence in Afghanistan as the leader of the terrorist group has gone forever, while war hawks argued the killing of bin Laden is just another proof that the decision of military buildup in the country is right and effective and should continue to be implemented.

The death of bin Laden also spurred speculations about the role Pakistan played in this raid, as the White House is still trying to figure out what kind of support bin Laden might have in Pakistan.

Addressing this concern, Carney said Pakistan has been "very helpful" in the fight against al-Qaida.

"We are working very hard on that relationship, it is an important and complicated relationship that has been tested in many ways over the years and even this year," he said. "We are in communication directly with the president and other senior members of the government."

When pressed about why the White House has yet to release a photo of bin Laden's corpse, the spokesman cited "the sensitivities involved."

"It is fair to say it is a gruesome photograph ... it could be inflammatory," he added.

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