The White House said that President Barack Obama considers it "tremendously important" to listen to Congress about the flagging war in Afghanistan but will not base his decisions on the mood among lawmakers or eroding American public support for the war.
"The president is going to make a decision, popular or unpopular based on what he thinks is in the best interests of the country," press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters. As for support from lawmakers, Gibbs said Obama is focused on getting his war strategy right, not on "who's for or who's against what."
Obama met at the White House with leaders of key war oversight and appropriations committees from both parties in the House and Senate. The session was part of a review of the war effort in Afghanistan and Pakistan that is expected to last several more weeks.
A core question is whether Obama will widen the war again after adding 21,000 US troops earlier this year. The top three US military officials overseeing the war favour continuing the fight against an emboldened Taliban and have concluded they need tens of thousands more US troops beyond the 68,000 already there.
The White House has cautioned for weeks that no decision on troops will come until Obama has reviewed all elements of the war effort.