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US, Afghanistan announce US will slow troop withdrawal, maintain 9,800 through end of 2015

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WASHINGTON — The White House says the U.S. will keep its current complement of 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through the end of 2015, instead of cutting the number by about half as originally planned.

It says the size of the U.S. troop presence for 2016 will be decided later this year.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had asked Obama to slow the withdrawal of U.S. troops from his country. That's because Afghan security forces are bracing for a tough spring fighting season and are also contending with Islamic State fighters looking to recruit on their soil.

The original plan was to cut the 9,800 troops to 5,500 by the end of this year.

Obama was to make the announcement at a news conference Tuesday after his first Oval Office meeting with Afghanistan's new leader.

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