Washington: The US is considering the option of keeping some 3,000 troops in Iraq by the end of the year, according to media reports.

Media reports here said that a recommendation in this regard has been sent to the White House by the Defence Secretary Leon Panetta.

But the White House and Pentagon denied the reports and said the option would be considered only if Iraq made such a request.

"We have said in the past that, if the security component of that relationship, if the Iraqi government makes a request of us, we will certainly consider it. That request has not been made, no decisions have been made, and so we are operating, as of now, under the existing agreements," the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

The President, he said, has made abundantly clear for a long time now that he will end US efforts in Iraq responsibly.

"We have been operating on a timetable that has withdrawn over a hundred thousand US forces since he took office, in a way that has been incredibly careful and responsible and has allowed the Iraqis to further build up their security forces and improve their capacities," Carney said.

"Discussions with the Iraqis on our post-2011 strategic relationship are on-going, and no decisions on troop levels have been made. We continue to proceed with troop withdrawals as directed by the President," said the Pentagon spokesman George Little.

There are currently more than 40,000 US troops in Iraq. The current agreement is for all troops to withdraw by year's end.

However, the US expects the Iraqis to request some US troops to remain to aid in training and security, it said.

According to a newspaper, the proposal for a smaller force — if approved by the White House and the Iraqi government, which is not yet certain — reflected the shifting political realities in both countries.

"We are deeply troubled by media reports that the Obama Administration has sharply reduced the number of US troops it is proposing for the post-2011 security force in Iraq to approximately 3,000," said a joint statement issued by Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham.

(Agencies)