Dobbins in Kabul to help quell uncertainty
KABUL (PAN): US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador James Dobbins arrived in Kabul late on Wednesday to hold talks with Afghan officials and help quell uncertainty triggered by President Hamid Karzai’s refusal to sign a bilateral security agreement (BSA) with Washington.
The US embassy in Kabul told Pajhwok Afghan News Ambassador Dobbins reached Kabul late on Wednesday from Pakistan, where he discussed a number of elements of the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue with Pakistani leaders on Tuesday.
However, the embassy did not say if Dobbins would meet President Karzai over the security deal, which would allow thousands of American troops to stay on to advice Afghan forces after 2014.
Frustration is mounting in Washington, and among NATO allies, over Karzai's refusal to sign the bilateral security agreement (BSA).
The Loya Jirga endorsed the pact last month, but Karzai surprised the international community when he said he might not sign the deal until after elections in April.
Dobbins arrived in Kabul as part of a series of discussions between US and Afghan officials to seek an end to the impasse.
"The longer this goes on the more that international support will erode," a US official told news agency Reuters in Washington.
"It is quite clear to us that the delay in signing this agreement is adding tremendous uncertainty to an already uncertain environment in Afghanistan."
The official said Dobbins' visit to Kabul was part of regular consultations in the region, but the security pact would be raised.
US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday suggested that Afghanistan's defense minister or other senior government officials could also sign the pact. The State Department official denied this was a way of bypassing Karzai.
But a spokesman for Karzai told a foreign news agency the President will not allow any of his ministers to sign the security pact unless his key demands were met.
"President Karzai wants an absolute end to the military operations on Afghan homes and a meaningful start to the peace process, and we are certain that the Americans can practically do that within days or weeks," Aimal Faizi said.
A foreign ministerial meeting of NATO countries in Brussels urged President Karzai to sign the deal.
In Pakistan, Dobbins met with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Policy and National Security Sartaj Aziz and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, among other officials.
“Dobbins’ visit is a continuation of our bilateral engagement with Pakistan as the United States remains committed to fostering peace, security, and economic growth in the region,” the US embassy in Islamabad said in a statement.
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