No permanent Afghan bases, U.S. says

May 10, 2013 at 9:28 AM

WASHINGTON, May 10 (UPI) -- The U.S. government isn't looking to set up permanent military bases in Afghanistan and ongoing presence would be on an invitation-only basis, officials said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he wanted security and reconstruction assurances from the United States in an eventual bilateral security agreement. He added that the U.S. government was looking to establish nine military bases in the country.

Both sides are engaged in deliberations that would define the U.S. military's role in Afghanistan after international forces leave the country next year.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. military would stay on in Afghanistan only at the request of Karzai's administration. An ongoing presence would be aimed at military training and the targeting of al-Qaida.

U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said the terms of the bilateral security agreement were up for debate.

"The United States does not seek permanent military bases in Afghanistan," he said. "We envision that the bilateral security agreement will address access to and use of Afghan facilities by U.S. forces."

U.S. and international forces entered Afghanistan in 2001 to take on al-Qaida and their Taliban hosts.

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