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    The U.S. has begun preparations to send an additional military contingent of 34,000 troops to Afghanistan, CNN has said citing defense ministry sources.

    The U.S. has begun preparations to send an additional military contingent of 34,000 troops to Afghanistan, CNN has said citing defense ministry sources.

    "There has been no final word on the president's decision. But planners have been tasked with preparing to send 34,000 additional American troops into battle with the expectation that is the number [U.S. President Barack] Obama is leaning toward approving," the channel said, citing a Defense Department official with direct knowledge of the process.

    The Pentagon currently plans to send to Afghanistan three U.S. Army brigades (about 15,000 troops), a Marine brigade (about 8,000 troops), a headquarters element (about 7,000), as well as between 4,000 and 5,000 of support troops.

    The U.S. so far has 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, while other 45,000 are from other NATO member states.

    Obama told a news conference on Tuesday that he would announce his plans on Afghanistan soon. Anonymous sources later said the U.S. president would speak on the issue on December 1.

    General Stanley McChrystal, the ISAF commander, earlier asked President Barack Obama to authorize sending up to 40,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to effectively fight the Taliban.

    According to CNN, the U.S. might also ask NATO countries to boost their continents in Afghanistan "to fill the gap between the 34,000 the Pentagon expects Obama to send and the 40,000 McChrystal wanted." The request is expected to come during a December 7 meeting at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

    WASHINGTON, November 25 (RIA Novosti)

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