BSA text ready, awaits Karzai's consent
WASHINGTON (PAN): The text of the proposed bilateral security agreement (BSA) between the US and Afghanistan "is locked" and ready to signed as soon as President Hamid Karzai accords it his consent, senior administration officials say.
The text of the proposed pact was completed before Karzai suspended negotiations in protest against the opening of the Taliban's political office in Doha and Washington's proposal to hold direct talks with the insurgents.
While the talks have not resumed yet, officials from the two countries have been holding informal discussions on the issue. "It (text) was locked before negotiations were suspended," one official told Pajhwok Afghan News,
It is up to the Afghan President to give his final approval to the deal, providing for the continued presence of US troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014, when the NATO-led combat mission is scheduled to end.
Also on Thursday, the Obama administration exuded confidence the BSA would be inked soon after the resumption of negotiations.
"Significant progress had been made in the negotiations before they were suspended, and we’re confident we can conclude an agreement soon after they resume," State Department Deputy spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters.
Informal discussions had been ongoing, but a decision rests with the Afghans, she said. "In the meantime, we will continue to talk to our Afghan partners on an ongoing basis about a range of issues related to the relationship," Harf said.
President Obama, she said, had been clear from the beginning that there would be two limited missions for any post-2014 presence. "That decision hasn’t been made yet, but they would be counterterrorism and to continue to train and equip Afghan forces.
"So that hasn’t changed. No decision has been made on a presence, but some progress has been made on the BSA," she said in response to a question," she concluded.
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