Updated: 02/22/2013 22:49 | By Agence France-Presse

Up to 12,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan post-2014: US

NATO may station up to 12,000 troops in Afghanistan to train and assist Kabul's forces after the alliance's combat mission there against the Taliban ends in 2014, US officials said Friday.


Up to 12,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan post-2014: US

Up to 12,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan post-2014: US

US Pentagon spokesman George Little said NATO was considering a deployment of between 8,000 and 12,000 troops, including any US contribution, but no final decision has yet been made.

Reports of a US presence of 8,000 to 12,000 troops "are not correct," he said.

President Barack Obama "is still reviewing options and has not made a decision about the size of a possible US presence after 2014," he said, adding that discussions will now continue with NATO allies and Afghanistan.

Earlier, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta had declined to give precise figures for the post-2014 mission and stressed that NATO was looking at a variety of options and seeking to maintain the most flexibility.

Panetta, who also rejected the report of 8,000 to 12,000 US troops being involved, said the training and advisory mission would have a presence throughout Afghanistan.

There "will be a presence in Kabul and in the north, south, west and east," he told a press conference at the end of a two-day NATO defence ministers meeting in Brussels.

He also detailed the US troop withdrawal programme after Obama last month announced that 34,000 soldiers -- just over half the current number -- would be brought home within 12 months.

US forces will be largely maintained during the upcoming Afghan fighting season and then reduced to about 50,000 by November and 32,000 by February, staying at that level during elections, after which the remainder would leave, he said.

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