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US, Afghans working on post-2014 mission for Americans

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta expressed confidence Tuesday that "within the next few weeks" an agreement between the United States and Afghanistan on a post-2014 mission for the American military will be hammered out, according to a Defense News story.

In an appearance before the senate Armed Services Committee, Panetta identified two sticking points. One involves night raids by U.S. troops, which Afghan President Hamid Karzai says costs too many innocent lives, the Defense News reported. The other issue concerns the status of detainees held in U.S.-operated prisons in Afghanistan.

Of the two, the latter is perhaps the thorniest, given the U.S. government's desire to keep known terrorists off the street. Officials in both countries are also working on the separate but related matter of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

But what to do with detainees currently held in U.S.-run prisons in Afghanistan remains a tricky issue. Panetta was quoted in the Defense News article as saying the post-2014 mission would probably include counter-terrorism operations and support to Afghan forces. That support would cover areas such as intelligence and logistics, and would probably necessitate the need to keep thousands of U.S. trooops in Afghanistan, as some lawmakers have suggested.

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