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Next Afghan leader will sign security pact: Kerry

27 february 2014, 16:22
0
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. ©Reuters/Evan Vucci/Pool
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. ©Reuters/Evan Vucci/Pool
The next president of Afghanistan will sign a security pact with the United States despite the refusal of outgoing leader Hamid Karzai, AFP reports according to the Secretary of State John Kerry.

"But for one person and his decision we would be on a different track today," Kerry told a small group of reporters, referring to Karzai who is holding out on signing a bilateral security agreement to govern the presence of any US troops remaining after 2014.

Karzai has refused to endorse the deal, which he hammered out with Kerry last year, saying it should be up to his successor who will be chosen in April presidential elections.

"It will be signed by the way," Kerry insisted on Wednesday.

"Whether it's signed by him or not we obviously have serious reservations, but all six of the candidates for the presidency of Afghanistan have said that they will sign it."

The Obama administration said its preferred option is to leave behind a residual US force when its combat teams depart Afghanistan after America's longest war at the end of this year.

But it will not do so without legal protections enshrined in the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) agreed between the two governments.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday warned Karzai that he is now planning for a full US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, invaded by US forces in 2001 to oust the then Taliban militant leadership.

"Specifically, President Obama has asked the Pentagon to ensure that it has adequate plans in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal by the end of the year should the United States not keep any troops in Afghanistan after 2014," a White House statement said.

But it added that Obama was reserving the possibility of concluding a BSA with Afghanistan later this year should the new government be willing.

Afghanistan votes on April 5, but a run-off and prolonged horsetrading could mean a government is not seated until August.

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