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Kerry: Delay in Deal Signing Unacceptable

Kerry Delay in Deal Signing Unacceptable

KABUL – All American soldiers will be withdrawn from Afghanistan next year if the bilateral security agreement (BSA) is not signed by the end of 2013, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned President Hamid Karzai on Friday. Kerry delivered the message through a telephone call to Karzai on Friday, a day after the president told Loya Jirga participants in Kabul that the deal would be signed after the 2014 presidential elections.

The unexpected call from President Hamid Karzai to delay the security pact was unacceptable, the secretary said, asking Afghanistan to approve the deal or risk the withdrawal of all US forces at the end of 2014. Jennifer Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman, told reporters in Washington Kerry has told Karzai that any delay would “make it impossible for the US and allies to plan for a post-2014 presence”.

In Kabul, a statement from Karzai’s office said the two leaders had a detailed discussion on the subject. As the secretary insisted on doing the deal within a month, the president clung to his stance.  Karzai stressed raids on civilian houses must stop and the US should hold out guarantees of sincere cooperation with his administration in conducting the April 2014 polls before the accord was signed.

He said two civilians were killed in the latest raid by US forces on houses in the Batikot district of eastern Nangarhar province. “We want this agreement to ensure peace and stability in the country.” Also on Friday, Karzai’s spokesman rebuffed American demand to conclude the pact within the next six weeks. Aimal Faizi told foreign media representatives: “We don’t recognise any deadline from the US side. They have set other deadlines also, so this is nothing new to us.” (PAN)

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