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White House reviews post-Holbrooke Afghan policy

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Obama holds his monthly review of U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • NEW: Gibbs says an upcoming analysis won't change current withdrawal plans
  • The United States is scheduled to start a withdrawal in July 2011
  • The monthly review comes one day after the death of special envoy Richard Holbrooke

Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama met behind closed doors with his national security team Tuesday to review the administration's policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan -- one day after the unexpected death of his diplomatic point man for the region.

Veteran U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke, America's special envoy to the so-called "AfPak" region, died Monday while being treated at a Washington hospital for a tear in his aorta.

Obama's monthly review of policy toward the pivotal region was held as planned, however, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon among those in attendance.

A long-awaited U.S. military analysis of the war in Afghanistan is expected later this week, a year after Obama ordered additional U.S. troops to the country as part of a strategy that could bring some forces home as soon as July 2011. Officials have said the goal is to end combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Tuesday that the result of the review won't change the plan to start withdrawing some U.S. troops next July.

"The view is that our transition can begin" at that point, Gibbs said. "There has been some important progress in halting the momentum of the Taliban in Afghanistan."

Earlier this month, Obama made his second trip to Afghanistan since becoming commander-in-chief.

At the moment, it is unclear whether the president intends to name a replacement for Holbrooke.

Obama paid tribute to Holbrooke Monday night, calling him "a true giant of American foreign policy who has made America stronger, safer, and more respected."

CNN's Alan Silverleib and Tom Cohen contributed to this report

 
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