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Bristol and Levi announce their engagement

Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston say they're engaged and hope to get married within six weeks in Alaska, an abrupt turnaround for the couple who just months ago was fighting over child support and Johnston's critical comments about the family.

Palin, the daughter of 2008 vice-presidential candidate and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, is featured on the cover of Us Weekly with Johnston, holding their 18-month-old son, Tripp, The Associated Press reports.

The couple tells the magazine they reconnected while working out a custody plan and became engaged two weeks ago.

Palin, 19, told Us Weekly she found the idea of telling her mother about the engagement "intimidating and scary." But Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, said in a statement on NBC's "Today" show that they want what's best for their children and that Bristol believes in "redemption and forgiveness." Representatives for Palin and Johnston did not immediately return messages from the AP seeking comment.

Earlier this month, Johnston, 20, acknowledged telling lies about the Palin family after he and Bristol broke up last year. He says he's apologized.

After the young couple broke up in late 2008, shortly after the birth of their son, Johnston gave a series of interviews criticizing the Palin family, maligning Sarah Palin's parenting skills and saying she wanted to adopt his child so people wouldn't know her daughter was pregnant.

He also posed for the February cover of Playgirl magazine.

Us Weekly executive editor Caroline Schaefer told "Today" that Bristol Palin approached the magazine looking for a platform to explain why she got engaged.

The couple is ready to get married, but Palin told the magazine they'll probably see a marriage counselor, Schaefer said, adding that Palin made it clear that Johnston will have "a lot of work to do." Asked whether the magazine paid for the interview, Schaefer would not discuss details of the arrangement except to say that the magazine paid for the expenses of the photo shoot.

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