A senior U.S. commander says Washington could reduce its 18,000-strong combat force in Afghanistan next year if Taleban militants accept an amnesty to be drawn up jointly by Kabul and Islamabad.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Lt. Gen. David Barno said he will have a much better sense by next summer -- after the April parliamentary polls -- if the security threat has diminished or not.

Since Hamid Karzai's landslide victory in the recent presidential election in Afghanistan, the government has unveiled a detailed plan to reconcile with the Taleban remnants.

General Barno said Mr. Karzai, who is to be sworn in as Afghanistan's first popularly elected leader on Tuesday, will produce a list of Taleban leaders to be excluded from the amnesty and pass it to Islamabad.