Delay in BSA affecting US, allies’ confidence
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): The White House on Thursday urged President Karzai government to sign the bilateral security agreement (BSA) as soon as possible, arguing the delay is negatively affecting US and its allies’ confidence in the region.
“The delay in signing negatively affects confidence in the region as well as ours and our allies’ ability to plan a potential follow-on mission,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily news conference.
“With the drawdown already ongoing, decisions have to be made soon about issues such as base closures and force levels,” he said, adding that without a signed BSA, near-term decisions about those issues would have to be made accordingly.
The US could not maintain any kind of troop presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014 in the absence of BSA, he said, acknowledging though there was no deadline to sign the deal, yet it should to be a matter of weeks, not months.
“It’s a simple equation when you’re talking about the kind of planning that has to go into structuring a troop presence and a mission for post-2014 in Afghanistan, a mission that would be focused on two things: counterterrorism, and aiding and supporting and training Afghan troops,” he said.
“As all these things are for the Department of Defense, that’s a complicated piece of business that requires a serious amount of planning, rather, for US forces and with our NATO partners. So this is not something that can drag on for very long,” he said.
Carney reiterated if the US could not conclude the agreement promptly with the Afghan government, then it would initiate planning for a post-2014 future in which there would be no US and no NATO troop on the ground in Afghanistan.
“That’s not the future we’re seeking, and we do not believe that it is in Afghanistan’s interests to pursue that future either,” he said.
At a separate news conference, State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said the US recognised civilian needs in Afghanistan would not end with the end of combat mission this year.
“We continue to believe that sustained and significant support for Afghanistan’s government and its people are critical to maintaining the gains of the past decade,” she said.
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