US and Afghan clash on timetable for security pact : worldleaks
The US has said a new post-2014 security deal with Afghan should be signed by the end of the year – conflicting with earlier comments from Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
The US said it was neither “practical nor possible” to time lag the signing.
As a assembling of Afghan elders argued the pact, Mr Karzai said it would not be signed until after 2014 elections.
The deal may see 15,000 foreign troops remain, although the US says it has not yet taken a decision on any presence.
‘I don’t trust them’
Opening the four-day grand assembly of elders – or Loya Jirga – on Thursday in Kabul, Mr Karzai recommended the delegates to approve the new security deal.
He said that a number of world leaders – including from Russia, China, and India – were backing the accord, and that it would provide the security Afghanistan needed, as well as the base for forces from other Nato countries who were assisting Afghan troops.
But the tone of his comments reflected the difficulties both sides had experienced in the months it took to hammer out the details. The draft was made public only hours before the gathering. Mr Karzai admitted there was a lack of trust between him and the Americans.
He said: “I don’t trust them and they don’t trust me. The last 10 years has shown this to me. I have had fights with them and they have had propaganda against me.”
Mr Karzai also appeared to strike a new condition – saying any pact would not be signed until after elections. The vote will be held in less than six months’ time, and Mr Karzai has served two terms so cannot stand again.
His office could not confirm to the BBC whether Mr Karzai – or his successor – would sign the pact.
The US quickly refused that timetable.
State department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “We believe that signing sooner rather than later is essential to give Afghans certainty about their future before the upcoming elections, and enable the United States and other partners to plan for US presence after 2014.
“It is neither practical nor possible for us to further delay because of the uncertainty it would create.”
White House spokesman Josh Earnest reiterated the US timetable: “It is important for this security agreement to be signed, approved and signed by the end of this year.”
Mr Earnest also tried that no decision had yet been taken on any post-2014 US troops, saying: “We have not yet determined whether a troop presence will continue in Afghanistan.”
Currently the multinational Nato force is due to pull out of Afghanistan from 2014.
According to the draft agreed by the US and Afghan, the new pact would remain in force “until the end of 2024 and beyond”.
However, Mr Earnest said the mission “wouldn’t take that long”.
The draft of the pact appeared to have resolved two critical issues – US raids on Afghan homes and who would have jurisdiction over trying US soldiers.
On Thursday, US President Barack Obama sent a letter to Mr Karzai vowing to respect his nation’s sovereignty, and pledging that US forces would not enter Afghan homes except for “extraordinary circumstances”.
Mr Karzai appeared to have conceded on jurisdiction for the pursuance of US troops.
The US-Afghan draft says: “Afghanistan authorises the United States to hold trial in such cases, or take other disciplinary action, as appropriate, in the territory of Afghanistan.”
The Loya Jirga can amend or refuse clauses in the pact, though its decisions are not binding. The deal will also have to be approved by parliament.
Loya Jirga delegates will now meet in smaller closed-door groups to look at the deal in detail.
Security is tight for the meeting after a suicide bombing last weekend near the huge tent where it is being held.
The Taliban has posted the meeting a US-designed plot, and has vowed to pursue and punish its delegates as traitors if they approve the deal.
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