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'Difficult decisions' on Iraq, Afghanistan ahead: Obama

world Updated: Jan 29, 2009 08:41 IST
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US President Barack Obama said he had "difficult decisions" to make on Iraq and Afghanistan after his first meeting as commander-in-chief at the Pentagon with military brass.

But no decision were made at the more than 90-minute session with the military chiefs, officials said, and Obama gave no clue whether he intends to stick with a 16 month timetable for the withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq.

"We're going to have some difficult decisions, we're going to have to make surrounding Iraq, and Afghanistan most immediately," he said, speaking with the heads of joint chiefs of staff and the military services.

"Obviously our efforts to go after extremist organizations that do harm to our homeland is uppermost on our minds," he added.

Obama must balance the risk of a rapid drawdown in Iraq against commanders' requirements for up to 30,000 more US troops in Afghanistan, which would nearly double the US military presence there, in response to worsening security conditions.

The president emerged from the meeting in a secure conference room known as "the Tank" with Vice President Joe Biden.

They shook hands and chatted and joked with senior enlisted leaders and officers who lined the wood paneled corridor to meet the new commander-in-chief.

Obama told reporters he had a "wonderful" discussion with the chiefs, which went longer than the hour allotted for the session, his first at the Pentagon with joint chiefs since become president.