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    US, Germany differ on troop numbers

    BRUSSELS/WASHINGTON (PAN): German and American officials on Friday gave conflicting statements on the number of US troops staying in Afghanistan after an end to NATO’s combat mission in 2014.

    Speaking to reporters, German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere said his US counterpart Leon Panetta had told him that 8,000-10,000 American soldiers would remain in Afghanistan.

    However, the US secretary said the German minister’s remarks were inaccurate. Instead the alliance and its partners had discussed different options on troop levels after 2014, he explained.

    In Washington, the Pentagon said President Barack Obama had taken no decision yet on the number of American troops in Afghanistan after security transition.

    “The reports that the US told allies that we are considering 8,000-12,000 US troops after 2014 are not correct. A range of 8,000-12,000 troops was discussed as the possible size of the overall NATO mission, not the US contribution,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little, said.

    “We will continue to discuss with allies and the Afghans how we can best carry out two basic missions: targeting the remnants of Al Qaeda and its affiliates, and training and equipping Afghan forces,” Little added.