Afghans ready for BSA with US: Karzai
KABUL (PAN): At a meeting with US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, President Hamid Karzai said on Monday his administration was ready in principle to let American troops stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
The meeting came a month after the Afghan government suspended negotiations on the long-term security pact in protest against how the Taliban opened their liaison office in Qatar.
A statement from the Presidential Palace said both sides discussed the Afghan-US security pact. Karzai once again emphasised the Afghan people had suffered decades of war and wanted peace in their country.
"President Karzai said Afghans, hoping for peace, are ready to sign the security pact on condition that it leads to peace and stability in the country, strengthening of Afghan forces and a united and sovereign Afghanistan," the statement added.
Karzai suspended the security talks, furious that the Taliban styled their office in Doha as an embassy for a self-styled government in exile. The New York Times reported this month tense relations might see Washington quicken troop withdrawal or even leave no forces behind after 2014.
The Pentagon has said any potential longer-term US military presence would focus on targeting remnants of Al Qaeda and, training and equipping Afghan forces.
The idea of a "zero option" of leaving no troops behind was mooted earlier this year by US deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes.
Dempsey is expected to hold talks with American and NATO commanders, as well as Afghan officials.
Afghan officials said ISAF Commander Gen. Joseph F. Dunford accompanied Dempsey during his meeting with President Karzai before noon.
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