Obama Nears Decision on Afghanistan Troops

In this picture released by U.S. Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, right, greets Command Sgt. Maj. Arthur L. Colman during his visit to Camp Eggers in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, July 20, 2008. Obama and other senators traveling with him met with many soldiers and sailors from their respective constituencies, said a U.S. military spokesman. (AP Photo/U.S. Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan, HO)
The White House said Tuesday that President Barack Obama has nearly finished gathering information and advice on how the U.S. will proceed in Afghanistan, but he will weigh his options before announcing a plan on U.S. troop strength there.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that a planned meeting on Friday with the top four U.S. military officers, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will be among the last events in the decision-making process.

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"I think the president will take some time after these meetings to pick through what he's heard, what we've all learned, and evaluate this process with what's best for our country, what's best for Afghanistan, Pakistan and for the region as a whole," Gibbs said.

The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan has urged Obama to send up to 40,000 more troops to confront Taliban forces who control large swaths of the country. But many liberals and some top Democratic lawmakers want a much smaller increase in U.S. troops, if any.

Gibbs said the president will announce his decision "in the coming weeks," a phrase he has used often before.

Gibbs spoke as Obama flew from Florida to Virginia for a political appearance.