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Dec 12, 2012 2:55 AM by Associated Press

Panetta: Obama weighing US presence in Afghanistan

ALI AL-SALEM AIR BASE, Kuwait (AP) - U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says President Barack Obama will decide in the next few weeks how many U.S. troops will stay in Afghanistan after the combat mission ends in December 2014.

Panetta did not reveal what options Obama is considering, but officials have said he may settle on a figure between 6,000 and 10,000. There currently are about 66,000 U.S. troops there.

The post-2014 mission is expected to focus on counterterrorism and advising Afghan security forces.

Panetta spoke Wednesday to about 100 U.S. service members inside an aircraft hangar at this desert base west of Kuwait City. He thanked them for their service and emphasized that the U.S. is winding down its involvement in lengthy wars.

On Tuesday, Panetta met with top Kuwaiti government officials.

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