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No conclusion yet on Afghanistan-U.S. security agreement talks

Oct. 3, 2013 at 1:19 AM   |   Comments

KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Afghanistan has yet to conclude a security agreement with the United States beyond 2014, although the two have been engaged in prolonged talks on the issue.

An agreement is needed to decide how many U.S. troops would stay in Afghanistan after the U.S.-led NATO coalition forces end their combat operations and withdraw from that country by the end of next year.

Despite more than a year of talks, U.S. and Afghan officials have yet to resolve some main issues confronting them, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

U.S. officials now want the agreement concluded this month. But Afghan officials seem reluctant to meet the deadline, citing to the Post their disappointment over previous negotiations with the United States.

Aimal Faizi, spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, said under an agreement last year, the United States was to cease unilateral operations, including night raids, but that such actions have not stopped despite Afghan government objections.

"We learned our lesson last time," Faizi told the Post. "That's why this is a slower process."

Another unresolved issue, Faizi said, is his government's demand that the U.S. military take more steps to check terrorists from neighboring Pakistan from coming into Afghanistan.

The Post reported Wednesday, officials from the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force declined comment on the allegations about unilateral military operations.

The report said Karzai, for the first time, will lead his side in the negotiations this month with U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham and Faizi expressing hope there would be progress.

U.S. officials have said as part of the proposed security agreement, U.S. troops remaining in Afghanistan would enjoy diplomatic immunity, a privilege not accorded by the Iraqi government in 2011, which led to a total U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq.

The Post said U.S. officials also realize meeting the demand for stopping the flow of terrorists from Pakistan would mean intervening in Pakistan, which they fear could upset that already-fragile bilateral relationship.

But Faizi said without such a protection guarantee, it would be hard to sell the agreement to the Afghan people.

The report said Karzai seems in no rush to reach a security agreement and wouldn't mind leaving it to be completed by his successor after the April presidential election.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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