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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says Pentagon and administration lawyers are looking for ways to expand the number of Defense Department civilians who are exempt from furloughs, amid worries that the government shutdown is damaging U.S. credibility among its international allies.

Hagel says he has been asked about the budget battle during his visit here in Seoul. He says it raises questions about whether allies can depend on the U.S. as a reliable partner.

Half of the department's 800,000 civilian workers are slated for furloughs beginning Tuesday.

Hagel has been talking with his senior budget advisers, and says they are exploring whether they can allow more of those 400,000 furloughed civilians to continue working. He says there is no answer yet.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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