US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the Obama administration is nearing a decision in the next few weeks on how many American troops will remain in Afghanistan - and for what purposes - after the US-led combat mission ends in 2014.
Panetta told reporters aboard his plane en route from Hawaii to Australia that the top US commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, had developed several options on a post-2014 presence.
Reporters asked Panetta about his future at the Pentagon. While Panetta declined to reveal his plans, he suggested that he still has work to do on the job he took in July 2011.
He added that there were a number of important defence issues awaiting resolution, including a budget impasse and the future of US involvement in Afghanistan.