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    Obama, Karzai shake hand but no word on BSA

    WASHINGTON (PAN): US President Barack Obama and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai exchanged greetings at the memorial service in Johannesburg, South Africa, for Nelson Mandela, but they did not discuss the bilateral security agreement (BSA).

     “He (Obama) exchanged greetings with President Karzai, but they did not have an extended discussion,” deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters while travelling with Obama on his way back from South Africa.

    Rhodes said during their brief exchange, they had no discussion on the BSA and that there had been no change in the US position on the accord.

     “I think the President (Obama) didn't see this as a venue to do business,” Rhodes said when asked why Obama didn't use the opportunity of seeing Karzai to bring up the vital security pact?   

    “He wanted it to be focused on celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela and saying goodbye.”

    “The other point there, though, is that we have an agreement that we are comfortable with, that we negotiated with the Afghans, that the Loya Jirga in Afghanistan has welcomed and embraced,” he said.

    “So our position continues to be that this is in the best interest of the United States and Afghanistan, and President Karzai should move toward signature of the agreement,” Rhodes said.

    A day earlier, Karzai accused the US of making threats in the dispute over the security pact, saying Washington was acting like a colonial power.

    rm/ma