WASHINGTON - US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta says the Pentagon and the White House are discussing what presence the US military will have in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of combat troops in 2014, according to reports in America media.

Panetta told reporters late on Monday aboard a military aircraft traveling to Australia that the head of the US-led Nato coalition in Afghanistan, General John Allen, has presented plans to support counter-terrorism and training for Afghan forces.

“General Allen has worked on several options that we are now reviewing and working with the White House on. And my hope is that we’ll be able to complete this process within the next few weeks,” said Panetta. “I’m confident that we’re going to be able to get to the right number that we’re going to need for the post-2014 presence.”

The United States and Afghanistan signed a strategic partnership agreement in May outlining the future relationship between the two countries. It does not specify any specific troop presence, but pledges American aid for Afghanistan for at least a decade after international combat troops leave the country. Panetta said that various options would depend on the various types of missions US forces would take part in after the 2014 withdrawal. The expectation is that the remaining US forces will participate in follow-on training of Afghan security forces, while a smaller number will remain to conduct a counterterrorism mission against al Qaeda.

“All of those (options) are being carefully reviewed,” Panetta said.

Still to be decided by the administration is the timetable - the pace - at which US troops will be coming out of Afghanistan over the next two years. There are about 67,000 US troops currently inside Afghanistan.

During the meeting with the travelling press Panetta was asked about whether he would be staying on as defence secretary in the second term of the Obama administration.

“There are a lot of challenges right now regarding defence issues in Washington - sequestration, budget, Afghanistan - and I think the president and I are working very closely to make sure we meet those defence challenges Right now my goal to meet responsibilities,” Panetta said.

Meanwhile, German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere arrived in Afghanistan late on Monday to review the coalition’s ongoing transfer of security control to the Afghan forces, a report said.