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