Dunford expects bilateral security pact by May or June
WASHINGTON (PAN): The ongoing negotiations on a bilateral security agreement between the United States and Afghanistan are expected to be completed by May or June, the US and NATO top commander based in Kabul said on Wednesday.
General Joseph Dunford told US lawmakers an early completion of negotiations, rather than in November, would give the allies to generate a necessary political will for their post-2104 role in Afghanistan.
“Originally, the agreement was to be signed not later than November of 2013. When (the US) President (Barack) Obama met with (the) President (Hamid) Karzai in January they agreed to accelerate that timeline. We are now cautiously optimistic that we would get that in May or June,” Dunford said during his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee.
“I think it's very important that we get that before the 2013 fighting season,” said the American general.
“The reason why the Bilateral Security Agreement is important is because our coalition partners are very much looking to the United States to lead with regard to post-2014 and they're going to need the time to generate the political will in their capitals and do the detailed budget planning just as we have to do for a post-2014 presence,” he explained.
The agreement will also help address the current atmosphere of uncertainty and the lack of confidence that the Afghan people have about the future, he said.
“And from my perspective, the Bilateral Security Agreement will be the physical manifestation of our commitment post-2014 and really form the foundation of an effective narrative,” he said.
Dunford said "as the Afghans go into the next fighting season, and they are absolutely going to be in the lead, the information environment within which they will operate in 2013 will be very much informed by the sense of commitment that we provide about post-2014."
“I believe that the cornerstone of that commitment is the Bilateral Security Agreement. I think it's very, very important both from a psychological perspective inside the country as well as for our ability to form a coalition post-2014 and I would strongly recommend we do that,” he said.
“I think the coalition that we have had over the past several years has been very effective and I think we want to continue to incentivize our coalition partners to participate with us as we go into the post-2014 mission,” Dunford said.
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