US hopes security pact to be signed soon
WASHINGTON (PAN): The Obama administration remains committed to working with the Afghan government to conclude the bilateral security agreement (BSA) as soon as possible, a US official said here on Monday.
Both countries were engaged to conclude BSA negotiation, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters at her daily news conference, hours after President Hamid Karzai indicated a Loya Jirga on the pact would be convened in a month.
“We've always said that October's a common goal set out in the SPA (special partnership agreement) and reaffirmed by both President Karzai and President Obama in January. So we're prepared to conclude a reasonable BSA, and we're working toward that goal,” she said.
After October, she added, it would become a little bit more difficult, not necessarily impossible by any means, but Afghans would be focused on the upcoming presidential and provincial council elections in April 2014.
“Yesterday we saw the list close for presidential candidates, which, as we've said before, is very critical to Afghan stability. But we need to really be focused on this agreement and get it done soon,” the spokeswoman said.
Harf claimed the two countries had made progress in BSA negotiations. “The talks are continuing. I don't want to prejudge the outcome because, these are very tricky issues. But I think it's clear that the Afghan leadership is focused on this; we are certainly focused on it and both of our governments committed to moving forward with it.”
Acknowledging there were always going to be sticky issues in the process, Harf said it was a complicated agreement. But the US was committed to working with President Karzai and government to conclude as soon as possible, she concluded.
She sounded optimistic the agreement on the future role of American troops in Afghanistan could be finalised in the next few weeks, despite President Karzai's criticism of the US and ISAF soldiers for repeatedly violating the country's sovereignty.
Also on Monday, Karzai insisting on the acceptance of his government’s conditions and said a Loya Jirga would be called in a month’s time to discuss the agreement. He once again made clear Afghanistan would sign the pact only when its conditions were met.
“The Afghans want to be friends with the US and the West, but this friendship should guarantee the protection of our core national interests,” the president said.
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