US, Afghanistan agree security draft pact: Report

US, Afghanistan agree security draft pact: Report
Thu Nov 21, 2013 09:04:50

The US and Afghanistan reached a draft agreement on Wednesday laying out the terms under which US troops may stay beyond 2014, one day before Afghan elders are to debate the issue.

A draft accord released by the Afghan government appears to meet US demands on such controversial issues as whether US troops would unilaterally conduct counterterrorism operations, enter Afghan homes or protect the country from outside attack, Reuters reported.

Without the accord, Washington has warned it could withdraw its troops by the end of next year and leave Afghan forces to fight a Taliban-led insurgency without their help.

Thousands of Afghan dignitaries and elders are due to convene in a giant tent in the capital Kabul on Thursday to debate the fate of US forces after a 2014 drawdown of a multinational NATO force.

"We have reached an agreement as to the final language of the bilateral security agreement that will be placed before the Loya Jirga tomorrow," US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in the US capital, referring to the gathering.

The draft agreement is to take effect on January 1, 2015, and says it will remain in effect "until the end of 2024 and beyond, unless terminated."

A senior US administration official said there has been no decision on the size of any post-2014 US force, however the administration does not foresee a residual force staying in Afghanistan until anywhere near 2024.

Intense negotiations between Kabul and Washington have provoked frustration among the Afghan tribal and political elders who made perilous journeys from all over the country to the capital Kabul for a grand assembly to debate the pact.

Efforts to finalize the pact stalled on Tuesday amid disagreement over whether US President Barack Obama had agreed to issue a letter acknowledging mistakes made during the 12-year Afghan war.

Kerry denied any discussion about the possibility of a US apology to Afghanistan for US mistakes or Afghan civilian casualties, a move that would likely draw widespread anger in the United States.


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