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Obama to announce plans to seek to leave 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON: U.S. President Barack Obama will announce plans on Tuesday to seek to leave 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the formal troop drawdown at the end of this year, a senior administration official said.

The number emerged after Obama held talks with U.S. military commanders at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on Sunday as the United States winds down a war begun in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Obama was to make the announcement in a 2:45 p.m. EDT statement in the White House Rose Garden.

U.S. officials are expressing increasing confidence that the next Afghan president will sign a bilateral security agreement that Obama wants before the United States will agree to leave behind troops to help train Afghan forces and conduct counter-terrorism operations.

Under the scenario envisioned by Obama, the 9,800 troops would stay for a year, then that number would be reduced by half by the end of 2015, the official said.

By the end of 2016, the U.S. presence would be cut to a normal embassy presence as has been done in Iraq, the official added.-Reuters

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