Monday, 25 November 2013

Afghanistan: Karzai Defiant Over US Deal Delay

Afghanistan's President has refused to sign a security deal which could see all US troops leave the country next year.
There are still 47,000 American forces in the country and there have been discussions about keeping a small residual force of about 8,000 troops there after it winds down operations in 2014.
But Hamid Karzai has told National Security Advisor Susan Rice in Kabul the US must put an immediate end to military raids on Afghan homes and demonstrate its commitment to peace talks before he would sign a bilateral security pact.
Following the meeting a White House spokesman quotes Ms Rice as saying: "Without a prompt signature, the US would have no choice but to initiate planning for a post-2014 future in which there would be no US or NATO troop presence in Afghanistan."
On Sunday an assembly of Afghan elders endorsed the security pact, but Mr Karzai suggested he might not sign it until after national elections next spring.
US troops have been in Afghanistan since leading multinational forces in ousting the Taliban regime in late 2001.
Officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, have said the bilateral security deal must be signed by the end of 2013 to begin preparations for a post-2014 presence.
Ms Rice told the Afghan president it was "not viable" to defer signing the deal until after the election.
The delay "would not provide the United States and NATO allies the clarity necessary to plan for a potential post-2014 military presence".
The Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) includes a provision allowing raids in exceptional circumstances - when an American life is directly under threat - but it would not take effect  until 2015.

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