Kerry urges quick signing of security deal by Afghanistan
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday called for a quick signing of a bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan after the country's tribal elders gave their blessing to the pact that governs future ties between Washington and Kabul, Xinhua reported.
Noting that the Loya Jirga, or grand assembly of Afghan tribal elders, approved and urged early Sunday the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States to be signed by the end of this year, the top American envoy said "I can't imagine a more compelling affirmation from the Afghan people themselves of their commitment to a long term partnership with the United States and our international partners."
"The critical next step must be to get the BSA signed in short order, and put into motion an agreement which will lay a firm foundation for our two countries to continue working together toward a more secure and prosperous future for Afghanistan," he said in a statement.
The pact allows the U.S. and its allies to keep 10,000 to 15,000 troops in Afghanistan after most American and NATO combat troops leave by the end of 2014.
The residual forces will remain until 2024 to train and assist Afghan forces as well as conduct counterterrorism missions. In addition, the deal gives the U.S. jurisdiction for the prosecution of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
"Afghans are rightly taking the lead in providing for their own peace and security," Kerry said in his statement. "We remain committed to supporting those efforts, and look forward to signing an agreement that will enable us to do so."
Addressing the Loya Jirga on Thursday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai declared that he would like to see the security deal signed by his successor to be elected in the presidential polls in April next year due to mutual mistrust between him and Washington.
The White House has called for the deal's signature by the end of the year.