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Sign security pact or risk future aid, Karzai warned

Sign security pact or risk future aid, Karzai warned

Dec 02, 2013 - 21:04

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): NATOinfo-icon and US officials in Brussels on Monday warned President Hamid Karzai he must sign the security deal on US troop status or put at risk future military and development aid for his country.


The US ambassador to NATO told reporters on the eve of NATO foreign ministerial meeting in Belgium that the security agreement would help unblock billions of dollars in aid for Afghanistaninfo-icon after 2014.

The deal hangs in balance as President Hamid Karzai has been refusing to sign it before his conditions including no more raids on civilian homes and peaceful elections and formal talks with the Talibaninfo-icon are met by the US.

The future of NATO's nearly 12-year-old mission to Afghanistan is also tied to the outcome of this standoff. The issue will likely be at the center of discussions when the alliance's foreign ministers meet on Tuesday and Wednesday.

US Ambassador Douglas Lute said the deal was an important "first link in the chain" that could ultimately bring more than $8 billion for Afghan security forces and development assistance after NATO ends its combat mission at the end of 2014.

A senior NATO official said time was pressing and political and military practicalities meant the agreement must be signed soon, while planning continues for a post-2014 training and advisory mission after NATO ends combat operations.
If there is no Afghan-US accord, there is "no post-2014 mission" and likely all the funding and other commitments that go with it, the official told a briefing ahead of the two-day NATO foreign ministers meeting.
The handling and "appropriate oversight" of aid is a key issue post-2014, given concerns over corruption, and the official said donors would be worried if there was no US and alliance presence to ensure it was spent as intended.
Without an agreement, funding "in theory could continue to be forthcoming... But in practice there must be a question whether donors would have the confidence to contribute," said the official.
As for non-military development aid totalling some USD 4.0 billion a year, the official said this was "different but again donors' confidence" could be put in doubt without an accord.
Karzai last week refused to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), even though a Loya Jirgainfo-icon assembly of tribal leaders that he had convened voted for him to do so.
The president, who stands down ahead of elections in April, yesterday accused Washington of halting essential supplies to some army and police units in an effort to force him to sign.
NATO officials said they hoped Karzai would come on board, with the BSA essential for laying down the legal framework for the post-2014 NATO troop presence and role.
A similar BSA deal with Iraq collapsed in 2011 leading to a complete US troop pull-out and an upsurge in sectarian violence.
About 75,000 NATO combat troops are still deployed in Afghanistan, the majority of them American.
Under the training and advisory mission, up to 12,000 troops, expected to be mostly American, would be based in Afghanistan.



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