White House officials say they are considering leaving no American troops in Afghanistan after the end of combat in December 2014, although the administration remains committed to preventing the country from becoming a haven for al-Qaida.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrives in the U.S. this week for meetings with top officials, including President Barack Obama.
Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, said Tuesday that the White House is considering a range of options for troop levels after 2014.
Officials have said the White House appears to favor keeping fewer than 10,000 U.S. troops there, but until now the administration has not said publicly it is considering a so-called zero option.
Rhodes said the U.S. goal is not necessarily to keep troops there, but to fight terrorists.
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