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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 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