White House Wants BSA Signed in Weeks
WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama wants to have a military presence in Afghanistan for training of troops and counter-terrorism operations, but will not send any soldiers post-2014 without a bilateral security agreement (BSA). “The president, when it comes to Afghanistan, has made clear he believes we should and can have a continuing mission there focused solely on training Afghan troops and counterterrorism,” the White House press secretary said.
Jay Carney told reporters on Monday the Afghan government had to sign the pact to pave the ground for a continued US troop presence, but had not done so. With each passing day, it became harder to plan with NATO allies a post-2014 mission because that could not be done without the BSA, he said, recalling there were commitments by the Afghan government to complete the deal by the end of the year.
Carney said Obama believed the best policy was to maintain a presence there focused solely on the missions — training and counterterrorism. “But he cannot and will not do that absent a BSA, which is why it is so important that the Afghan government move quickly to sign that agreement…” The US never set a December 31 deadline, but it was certainly America’s preference to complete the agreement in 2013, which was consistent with the goal that was set at the beginning of negotiations and reiterated by President Hamid Karzai during his visit to Washington.
“Now, our position continues to be that if we cannot conclude the BSA promptly, then we will be forced to initiate planning for a post-2014 future in which there would be no US, nor NATO troop presence in Afghanistan,” he explained.
“That’s not the future we’re seeking. That’s not the policy the president believes is best and we don’t believe it’s in Afghanistan’s interest. But the further this slips into 2014, the more likely that outcome will come to pass,” the official said. While there was no deadline, Carney said, it was a matter of weeks rather than months. “And the clock is ticking for the reasons I laid out. We can’t contemplate a continued presence there absent a signed BSA.” (PAN)