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Page last updated at 08:17 GMT, Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Barack Obama to make US Afghan troop decision 'in days'

US soldiers in Afghanistan - 2009
Some are expecting Mr Obama to make an announcement next week

US President Barack Obama will announce his decision on whether to deploy thousands more US troops to Afghanistan "within days", officials say.

Mr Obama met top advisors on Monday night in what could be one of his last major meetings on the topic.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president "has the information he wants and needs to make his decision".

Mr Obama is weighing a request from his top commander in Afghanistan for 40,000 more US troops to aid the war effort.

One report says military officials and others expect Mr Obama to settle on a "middle ground option", deploying between 32,000 and 35,000 additional troops.

Meanwhile, the New York Times newspaper suggested the president's advisers had been testing the reaction among lawmakers to an increase of 20,000 to 30,000 troops.

National address

After completing a rigorous final meeting, President Obama has the information he wants and needs to make his decision and he will announce that decision within days
Robert Gibbs
White House press secretary

Among the officials attending the evening meeting were Vice-President Joe Biden, Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the White House said.

Press secretary Robert Gibbs said the two-hour meeting, in the White House situation room, was aimed at discussing "some of the questions that the president had, some additional answers to what he'd asked for".

"After completing a rigorous final meeting, President Obama has the information he wants and needs to make his decision and he will announce that decision within days," Mr Gibbs said.

The president has been saying with increasing frequency that a key part of the rethinking of the US's Afghanistan strategy involves building an exit strategy into the announcement.

Mr Obama is expected to deliver a national address setting out his revised strategy - which some expect to come as early as next week.

A raft of Congressional hearings would then follow with likely witnesses including the US commander in Afghanistan, Gen Stanley McChrystal, Mrs Clinton, and Mr Gates.



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