President Barack Obama appears to have ruled out cutting the number of troops deployed in Afghanistan or shrinking the Afghan war to a smaller one turning it into a counter-terror campaign.
Late on Tuesday night in comments to congressmen during a meeting on America's Afghan strategy, Mr Obama did not signal whether he is prepared to send more troops to the war zone, either the 40,000 his top commander wants or a smaller build up.
But he made clear he does not favour restricting the campaign to air strikes and counter-terrorism efforts.
Leaders from both parties in the House of Representatives and the Senate held a 90-minute discussion with Mr Obama, with Republicans pushing his to follow the advice of his military commanders and Democrats saying he should not be rushed.
His top commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, has warned that more troops are needed to right the war, perhaps up to 40,000 more. Mr Obama already has added 21,000 US troops this year, raising the total to 68,000, The News York Times reports.
It was also reported, the politicians praised Obama for his candour and interest in listening, but emerged from the 90-minute closed-door meeting much as they entered.
The president himself did no show his hand on either the 40,000 more soldiers his commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, wants, or a smaller build-up, officials said, Aljazeera.net reports.
In the meantime, the Taliban has been stepping up attacks on U.S. and NATO forces and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Last weekend eight American soldiers were killed in a battle with insurgents who attacked a remote outpost in northern Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan.
Public support for the war is eroding. An ABC/Washington Post poll conducted Sept. 10-12 found that 46 percent of Americans said the war in Afghanistan was worth fighting, compared with 51 percent who said it wasn’t worth the cost. In March, 56 percent said the war was worthwhile, Bloomberg reports.