Afghanistan will ‘sign security pact’
February 14, 2014 - 7:03:02 am
BERLIN: Germany’s foreign minister yesterday said he had received assurances from Afghan President Hamid Karzai that his country would sign a security deal with the US to allow Western troops to remain in the country.
The US has warned it could withdraw its troops unless the pact is signed soon.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke to Karzai during a weekend trip to Afghanistan. “He said to me very clearly: the deal has been negotiated, it would not be amended,” he told the Bundestag lower house of parliament, adding Karzai had given no indication of the timing.
Karzai has stressed that he could only sign the agreement once the reconciliation process, which will include radical forces such as the Taliban, had got underway, said Steinmeier.
“I was pleased that Karzai said very clearly that Afghanistan would in any case sign.”
The US and other nations want to keep thousands of troops in Afghanistan for counter-terrorism and training of Afghan personnel after US forces formally withdraw at the end of this year.
The deal is a condition for those soldiers to remain active in Afghanistan. Germany has some 3,200 soldiers as part of the Nato-led mission.
The US director of national intelligence said earlier this week he did not believe Karzai would sign the deal.
Afghan-US relations can be traced to 1921, but the first contact occurred in 1830s when the first recorded person from the US visited Afghanistan. In the last decade, relations have become stronger. REUTERS