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Key Week Ahead for Obama's Afghanistan Plans

(AP)
With the war in Afghanistan about to enter its ninth year, President Obama is embarking on a pivotal week as he attempts to settle on optimal U.S. strategy in Afghanistan going forward.

On Wednesday and Friday, Mr. Obama will meet with his national security team. On top of that, the White House announced today that Mr. Obama will meet with top-ranking members of Congress at the White House to discuss Afghanistan tomorrow afternoon.

The meeting is scheduled for 2:30 pm Eastern Time, CBS News Capitol Hill Producer John Nolen reports.

Expected to attend are Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Republican Leader John Boehner.

Also present will be the chairman and ranking members of the Senate Armed Services, Senate Foreign Relations, House Armed Services, House Foreign Relations committees: Carl Levin, John McCain, John Kerry, Richard Lugar, Ike Skelton, Buck McKeon, Howard Berman and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Meanwhile, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs reiterated Monday that the Obama administration currently has no plans to fully withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

"I don't think we have the option to leave," Gibbs told reporters. "I think that's -- that's quite clear."

Gen. Stanly McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, has been publicly pressing for as many as 40,000 more U.S. troops. Some administration officials, meanwhile – including, reportedly, Vice President Joe Biden – have been pushing for a targeted counterinsurgency against al Qaeda that would not require a troop surge and would focus more on Pakistan.

McChrystal's public push for more troops has caused some consternation; National security adviser James L. Jones, in a criticism of the commander for his outspoken advocacy for a troop surge, said Sunday that "it is better for military advice to come up through the chain of command."

McChrystal has called a strategy other than the one he advocates "short-sighted" and suggested it will lead to mission failure. He and other leaders believe the best way forward is to make securing the Afghan civilian population a primary focus.

Today, however, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the military will fall in line with whatever the president decides.

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Coming up on the "CBS Evening News": Afghanistan: The Road Ahead, a 3-part, in-depth examination of the escalating conflict, airing Oct. 5-7, 6:30 p.m. ET.

CBSNews.com Special Report: Afghanistan

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