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Obama: Troop Decision Possible Before Afghan Runoff


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U.S. President Barack Obama says he may make a decision on a revised Afghan strategy before that country's runoff presidential election on November 7. But Mr. Obama also says an announcement may wait until after the votes are in.

The president makes clear he believes the situation in Afghanistan is still fluid.

In an interview with NBC television he hinted there might be twists and turns ahead.

Mr. Obama was asked if the runoff could delay the release of his revised strategy for Afghanistan.

"I think it is entirely possible that we have a strategy formulated before a runoff is determined. We may not announce it," he said.

The president has held a series of lengthy closed door meetings with his national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Critics have alleged he is dragging out the decision-making process and needlessly putting American troops in danger.

President Obama made clear he would not be rushed, telling NBC he is taking the time to get the decision right. "We also want to make sure we don't put resources ahead of strategy," he said.

But he went on to say he understands the need to act in a timely fashion, saying the sooner a sound approach is in place, the better.

President Obama got a first hand report on the situation in Afghanistan Wednesday from Senator John Kerry - the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Massachusetts Democrat met repeatedly in Kabul with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the days leading up to the announcement that a runoff would be held.

Kerry told reporters as he left the White House that President Obama should wait for the election outcome before making up his mind on further troop deployments.

"I think that as a matter of common sense that the president would feel that it makes sense to wait until the end of this two week period. Two weeks is a very short span of time, folks, to determine whether or not you have a government to work with in a war," he said.

Kerry was asked if he raised the idea of a coalition government with Hamid Karzai. He said the matter never came up, but added he believes there are ongoing discussions between President Karzai and his runoff challenger Abdullah Abdullah.