He made the remarks in an interview in ‘Face the Nation’ program of CNBC News.
Emphasizing that the U.S. should ensure that the Afghan government is stable before pulling out troops, Gates said “I think that the circumstances under which you bring them home matter. And I think trying to give the Afghan government the best possible shot at survival is really important for the future of Afghanistan.”
He outlined potential consequences of the Taliban retaking control of the country, particularly the reduction of women’s rights, warning that the group wants to ‘take over Afghanistan’.
The latest remarks by Gates came as Washington is busy negotiating with the Taliban political leaders in Qatar to find a negotiated settlement to end the ongoing violence in the country.
The sixth round of talks between U.S. and Taliban representatives ended on Friday in Qatari capital of Doha with the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad reporting ‘steady but slow progress on aspects of the framework for ending the Afghan war.’