Security deal central to troop presence: State Dept
WASHINGTON (PAN): Given the importance of the bilateral security agreement (BSA), the United States and Afghanistan were moving forward toward concluding the deal, a State Department official said on Wednesday.
But the delay in signing the BSA -- which earlier had a deadline of October 31 -- would not push forward the December 31 timeline for withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, the official explained.
"That timing has not changed. We are very close here to the next step. … the important context is that we have resolved major issues, we’re moving forward in the steps in the process," the State Department spokeswoman added.
Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference: "Our team on the ground remains in close contact. Our lawyers are doing the technical review. So each of these steps are being taken."
Psaki said the agreement's text was agreed upon when Secretary of State John Kerry recently visited Kabul, where he met President Hamid Karzai. "The basis of the text that was agreed when the secretary was in Afghanistan. So that text will go to the Loya Jirga.
"They’ll go through the process there. We're doing our own technical review. So there's not necessarily an update. The next step here is really the conclusion of our technical review and the Loya Jirga in Afghanistan," she maintained.
Responding to questions, Psaki maintained the security pact was vital to having an ongoing US military presence in Afghanistan. With this in mind, the US is working hard to conclude the pact.
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