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U.S. May Reconsider Afghan Troop-Reduction Plan


Defense Secretary Ash Carter has told NATO allies that the United States is reexamining plans to cut its troop numbers in Afghanistan next year, a British minister has said.

Speaking to reporters on June 15 following a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels, U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said, "Carter told us the troop numbers and the dispositions are being looked at again."

Carter later told a news conference that U.S. President Barack Obama remained willing to review security in Afghanistan and its impact on force levels.

He also said he expected Obama to do that "at the end of the year."

The current U.S. plan is to reduce the number of soldiers from 9,800 to 5,500 by the end of 2016.

NATO ministers agreed on June 15 to hold onto its broad geographic layout of bases in Afghanistan.

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said several member states also committed to a troop presence next year in Afghanistan.

"With a regional presence, we will continue to advise, train, and assist the Afghan national forces," he said.

"We are now working on the final decision of our exact force number into 2017," he added. "So that is something we will decide on later this year."

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters
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