Progress on US-Afghan Deal Continues

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Progress on US-Afghan Deal Continues

Progress on US-Afghan Deal Continues

(Kabul) – President Hamid Karzai and US Secretary of State John Kerry held a second day of talks in Kabul, after making progress over a long-delayed deal on the future of US forces in Afghanistan.“We will try to see if we can make a little more progress, which we have been doing,” Kerry told reporters and US embassy staff.
Karzai’s spokesman Aimal Faizi told that, “There are still issues we are finalising, therefore there is a need for a third round of talks.” While the United States is keen to conclude the negotiations quickly, the Afghan president has said the pact can wait until after Afghan elections, due in April.
Progress towards an agreement was made on the first day of talks, according to both Afghan and US officials. An agreement appeared to have been reached on the first of the two sticking points i.e. a US request to run independent counter-terrorism missions on Afghan territory.
The focus of the talks had turned to the second contentious point, a US refusal to guarantee protection from foreign forces, which it wants to avoid as it could require taking offensive action against its ally Pakistan, an Afghan official said.
Most foreign combat troops are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and without a deal, the United States could pull out all of its forces in an outcome known as the “zero option”, which was unthinkable until a few months ago.
Karzai said this week that he was prepared to walk away from negotiations on the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), which would allow some US troops to stay in the country after 2014. The United States has pressed for the pact to be signed within weeks so that the US-led Nato military coalition can schedule its withdrawal of 87,000 combat troops by December 2014.

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