‘Afghans not to be intimidated over US security deal’

‘Afghans not to be intimidated over US security deal’
Fri Dec 13, 2013 16:41:02

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in India on Friday that he would not be “intimidated” into signing the pact which would allow 12,000 US troops to stay in Afghanistan after 2014.

“Aggressive rhetoric won’t work,” he told NDTV, adding that his country is “not a nation that is known for giving into intimidation.”

Afghanistan will sign the pact “when we feel sure that our signature will bring peace and security,” Karzai said after meeting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Karzai has close ties with India, which is keen to ensure that the exit of some 75,000 US-led NATO troops at the end of 2014 does not trigger a return to power of the hardline Taliban militants.

Referring to uselessness of using aggressive words, Karzai said "if they (US officials) have not recognized this, they should, it will be good for them to recognize... We will sign it when we feel sure that our signature will bring peace and security."

Karzai, who is due to stand down after elections next year, initially endorsed the so-called Bilateral Security Agreement.

But he later said the agreement could only be signed after the presidential election in April, warning against a NATO presence if it just meant "more bombs and killings".

His stance has outraged US officials and lawmakers, who have threatened a complete pullout if Karzai does not sign by the end of the year.

James Dobbins, the US special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan, this week told a Senate Committee he hoped India could help persuade Karzai to ink the agreement.

India has poured $2 billion in reconstruction aid into Afghanistan and requests for more military assistance would be high on the agenda of Karzai visit.

On his last visit to New Delhi in May, Karzai said he had put forward a "wishlist" of military assistance he hoped Delhi could deliver.


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