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Senior U.S. Official Says Afghan President Must Sign Deal Soon

Washington, December 17 (RHC)-- A senior U.S. official says Afghan President Hamid Karzai should “as soon as possible” sign the controversial Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between Kabul and Washington.

Deputy spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of State Marie Harf said on Monday: “We've said that this needs to be signed as soon as possible.”  She made the comments in reference to the agreement that would determine the presence of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan beyond the planned 2014 withdrawal.

The pact would also grant legal immunity to those U.S. occupation soldiers who remain in Afghanistan -- something that has turned into a sticking point.  Harf said that the U.S. position "hasn't changed, and discussions with the Afghans about how to get this done as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, U.S Secretary of State John Kerry said in an interview with ABC News: “I believe that Hamid Karzai, either he or his successor, will sign this,” easing deadline for signing security deal between the two countries set by January 2014.

The Afghan president, however, said over the weekend that he no longer trusts the United States, accusing the U.S. administration of saying one thing and doing another.  He added he would not be “intimidated” into signing the deal.

Karzai has also urged Washington to reconsider its stance on the controversial security deal, reiterating his position that the Afghan nation cannot approve an agreement without guarantees that the U.S. will halt its deadly airstrikes on residential areas and help broker a peace process with the Taliban.

Washington has been pressuring Karzai to sign the pact but the Afghan president says the matter should be left to the next government after the April elections in Afghanistan.  The United States has more than 43,000 troops in Afghanistan.
Edited by Juan Leandro
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