U.S. defense chief says range of options discussed on Afghanistan

BRUSSELS Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:29pm IST

U.S.' Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta addresses a news conference during a NATO defence ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels February 22, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

U.S.' Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta addresses a news conference during a NATO defence ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels February 22, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Vidal

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta denied on Friday the United States had told allies it planned to keep 8,000 to 12,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014, saying a range of troop options for an overall NATO presence in Afghanistan had been discussed.

"That report is not correct," Panetta said, referring to an account of a NATO defence ministers' meeting in Brussels given by German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere.

"We did discuss a range of options and what we discussed was a range of options that would be directed to the NATO force overall, which includes both the U.S. force contribution that we would make, plus what other NATO countries would contribute as well," he told a news conference.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart, Adrian Croft; editing by Rex Merrifield)

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