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Kerry, Karzai reach pact on U.S. troop stay beyond 2014

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Kerry, Karzai reach pact on U.S. troop stay beyond 2014
Kerry, Karzai reach pact on U.S. troop stay beyond 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said that he and Afghan President Hamid Karzai had agreed on the terms of the bilateral security agreement (BSA) to cover the presence of American troops beyond 2014.

The final agreement between the two countries was reached during a telephonic conversation — second in less than 24 hours — between Mr. Kerry and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, on the eve of the crucial Loya Jirga, which has been convened in Kabul to put its seal of approval on the BSA.

“I’m pleased to say that in a series of conversations with President Karzai in the course of this morning, even interrupting some of our conversations, that we reached an agreement as to the final language of the Bilateral Security Agreement that will be placed before the Loya Jirga tomorrow,” Mr. Kerry said here at a news conference on Wednesday.

Responding to questions, Mr. Kerry refuted reports that Mr. Karzai sought an apology from the U.S. on civilian casualties.

“President Karzai didn’t ask for an apology. There was no discussion of an apology. It is just not even on the table. That is not the subject that we have been talking about,” he said.

“What we’ve been talking about are the terms of the BSA itself, which provide the outline of the structure, the process by which ISAF, international forces, the United States forces themselves would be engaged going forward,” Mr. Kerry said.

“It is a very limited role. It is entirely train, equip, and assist. There is no combat role for United States forces. And the Bilateral Security Agreement is an effort to try to clarify for Afghans and for United States military forces exactly what the rules are with respect to that ongoing relationship,” he said.

Mr. Kerry said it is very important for Mr. Karzai to know that issues that he’s raised with the U.S. for many years have been properly addressed and vice versa.

“The agreement will speak for itself when the agreement is approved…we have agreed on the language that would be submitted to a Loya Jirga, but they have to pass it. So I think it’s inappropriate for me to comment at all on any of the details. It’s up to the people of Afghanistan,” he said.

Referring to his recent visit to Kabul, Mr. Kerry said he and Mr. Karzai had finished the major part of the negotiation, and both had said it has to go to the Loya Jirga.

“I think it’s up to President Karzai to speak to the Loya Jirga, its process, and how it will work and what the results will be, and it’s up to President Obama and the White House to address any issues with respect to any possible communication between the President or President Karzai. So let’s see where we are,” Mr. Kerry said.

“But the important thing for people to understand is there has never been a discussion of or the word “apology” used in our discussions whatsoever,” said the Secretary of State.

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