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U.S. Defense Chief Says No Decision Yet On Iraq Troops


U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has denied that the Obama administration has made a decision on keeping U.S. troops in Iraq beyond an end-of-the-year deadline for their withdrawal.

Speaking on a visit to New York, Panetta confirmed that no decision has yet been made.

He was speaking after news reports said that Panetta backs a plan to keep 3,000 to 4,000 U.S. troops in Iraq past the end of the year.

The White House on September 6 said it was still waiting for a possible request from the Iraqi government for a U.S. training mission.

Reacting to the reports, three prominent U.S. sentators -- John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham -- said in a joint statement that a force of 3,000 U.S. trainers was "dramatically lower" than what U.S. military leaders have said is needed to support Iraq's military and government.

Since becoming president, Obama has overseen a drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq, to around 46,000 currently.

compiled from agency reports
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