Afghan leaders support U.S. partnership

May 9, 2005 at 7:43 AM

KABUL, Afghanistan, May 9 (UPI) -- More than 1,000 Afghan political, religious and tribal leaders have backed President Hamid Karzai's plans for a "strategic partnership" with the United States.

A Grand Assembly was held Sunday in Kabul at the Presidential Palace, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported Monday.

Government spokesman Jawed Ludin said that the leaders were "on the whole ... very positive" with Karzai's proposed partnership with the United States.

Rather than permanent U.S. military bases, Ludin said that U.S. presence would manifest in a number of sectors until the time when the Afghan security forces could operate without outside help.

Although the United States has a strong military presence now in Afghanistan, there is no formal agreement with the Afghan government.

Karzai is expected to discuss the issue of strategic partnership with the United States during his visit to Washington later in May.

Any treaty or agreement made with the United States would have to go before Afghanistan's parliament, which will be established after September's election.

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