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Obama's Afghanistan decision: Tune in next week

November 24, 2009 |  8:05 am

President Obama and his war council
President Obama held his ninth meeting Monday night in the situation room with his War Council, a two-hour session to review the options in Afghanistan. This time, the assembled foreign-policy and military experts even included the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, an outspoken critic of the Hamid Karzai government in Kabul.

Also on hand for the very first time was Budget Director Peter Orszag, signaling the weight the Obama administration now places on how to pay for any surge in U.S. troops.

Today, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the president was ready to make a decision.

“After completing a rigorous final meeting, President Obama has the information he wants and needs to make his decision," Gibbs said, "and he will announce that decision within days.”

White House aides are talking about a prime-time address on Tuesday for Obama to announce and explain his decision. In the meantime, Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, whose request for 40,000 more troops sparked the review, has been told to prepare to testify before Congress early next week.

Any increase in U.S. troops, aides say, is likely to be accompanied by more muscular diplomatic efforts and development aid, as well as an exit strategy from the war started eight years ago when President Bush invaded Afghanistan to retaliate for the 9/11 attacks.

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: Pete Souza / White House

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