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Hagel offers troops rare glimmer of hope on budget
Hagel offers troops glimmer of hope on possible budget deal as Afghan trip ends, Pakistan next
By LOLITA C. BALDOR
Associated Press
2013-12-09 03:01 AM

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (AP) -- Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel is offering troops a rare glimmer of hope about the department's financial woes.

The U.S. defense secretary tells Marines in southwestern Afghanistan that a possible congressional budget deal could ease the automatic spending cuts that have hit the military hard.

Hagel says the possible agreement would restore some money to the Pentagon this budget year. The automatic cuts, if they left unchanged, would slice $52 billion from the Pentagon's budget this fiscal year.

Hagel's finishing a two-day stop in Afghanistan before heading to Pakistan Monday.

He'll be the first American defense chief to visit Pakistan in nearly four years.

Relations between the two countries have seesawed over tensions about drone strikes and military operations along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

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