The New York Times newspaper reports the United States is planning to reduce its troop levels in Afghanistan next year.

The report says Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld signed orders on Monday that will reduce the number of American troops from 19,000 to 16,000 by early next year.

Pentagon spokesman Larry Di Rita told the newspaper the decision was based on recommendations from senior American military commanders in Afghanistan and the U.S. Central Command.

The spokesman says the overall level of security forces in Afghanistan, NATO's expanded role and the political developments in the country were also considered.

Afghanistan's first democratically-elected parliament in more than 30 years held its opening session Monday, when 351 new legislators were sworn in.

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney attended the ceremony that capped an internationally-backed process of establishing democracy in Afghanistan, following the ouster of the Taleban regime in 2001.