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Gates to Remain in Washington During NATO Summit

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 16, 2009 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates will remain here to tend to Defense Department budget issues during next month’s NATO Summit in Europe, a Pentagon spokesman said today.

President Barack Obama and National Security Advisor Jim Jones will represent the United States at the summit in Strasbourg, France, and Kehl, Germany, which takes place on the 60th anniversary of the alliance.

“Given the fact that the U.S. will be well represented, the work that still has to be done back here on what is arguably probably one of the most challenging budget reviews that has taken place in a number of years, he just felt that it’s best that he remain here and work on that,” Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

“He came to that conclusion and talked to the national security advisor about it, and it was agreed upon that that would probably be the best course to take,” Whitman added.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said Gates had hoped to join Obama to celebrate the alliance's anniversary, but that work on the 2010 budget will not permit him to leave.

“He simply needs more time to review all of our major weapons programs and assess how they fit into his efforts to strategically rebalance the department's budget to reflect the president's national security priorities," Morrell said today in an e-mail statement.

NATO heads of state and government officials will meet at the summit April 3–4.

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