US links future presence to BSA signing
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): US President Barack Obama would evaluate his options on Afghanistan only after the bilateral security agreement (BSA) was signed, the White House said on Tuesday.
"We will evaluate our options when it comes to a post-2014 troop presence dependent upon actions taken by the government in Kabul to sign the BSA," the White House press secretary said.
Jay Carney told reporters at his daily news conference in Washington: "I don’t have any updates on that process. It’s obviously something that remains under discussion."
The narrow purpose of the post-2014 mission would be to continue to train and assist Afghan security forces and to assist in counterterrorism operations, the White House official said.
He added the military conflict would come to a close at the end of the year. The decisions about a potential force that would continue to stay in Afghanistan were dependent on a number of issues including the BSA, he reiterated.
At a separate news conference, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said the US would need a BSA if there was going to be any force presence on the ground post-December.
"We don't have a BSA. President Karzai won't sign it. So, we're certainly hoping that whoever his successor is will. We are encouraged by the fact that all the candidates have said publicly that they will sign it," he said.
Obama has told the Department of Defence to begin planning for a complete withdrawal at the end of the year. "We have done that planning. He's also told us to be ready and to plan for some sort of presence. We are doing that as well."
The president had not made a decision about what the presence was going to look like, but if there was going to be a US presence on the ground in Afghanistan in 2015 and beyond, the BSA had to be inked, he said.
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