White House wants BSA signed in weeks
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): The White House on Wednesday urged the Karzai government to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement in the next few weeks, saying it did not want the deal to be delayed until after the election.
“Because of the need to coordinate this planning internationally with the Afghan government and within our own military, we still believe this needs to be done in the next several weeks and not delayed until after the election,” Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said.
He told a news conference the US had made clear the BSA that had been negotiated was a good agreement both for the United States and Afghanistan, and should be signed by the government of President Hamid Karzai.
“We believe that should happen as soon as possible, that there does not need to be further negotiations, that the text is agreed. And we've said that needs to take place in the coming weeks, and so we don't want to see it delayed until after the election..."
Rhodes insisted there was not much time left because they had a significant amount of planning to do in terms of a drawdown over the course of 2014 and any follow-on force. If there was no clarity about the accord, the US could not plan a troop presence in Afghanistan after 2014, he argued.
“We need to be able to get together with our NATO allies because their drawdown is going to be affected by whether or not there's a BSA. Countries that are contemplating their own post-2014 presence are waiting to see whether or not there's a BSA and there'll be a US presence. So our ability to coordinate the alliance very much depends upon the certainty that we're going to have a BSA. And so that's one critical component of this,” he said.
“So for all those reasons, we would like to make these decisions in the coming weeks. We don't want to see it delayed. The President has been very clear to us that even as we plan for potential options for a troop presence after 2014 in the event of a BSA, that we're not going to keep troops in Afghanistan if there's not a BSA. So we also have to plan for a contingency of not having troops in Afghanistan,” the White House official explained.
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