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Washington May Ease Stance on Afghan Deal

Washington, December 24 (RHC)-- A new report says the United States may be easing its stance toward a controversial security pact with Afghanistan, days before the December 31st deadline. A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the New York Times that the administration of President Barack Obama was holding off on signing the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with Kabul.

The agreement would allow the presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 withdrawal deadline. Although it is not clear how long Washington will wait for an agreement with Kabul, the unnamed official said that if the United States wanted a deal at all, “We’re going to have to wait.”

The sudden shift in Washington’s approach towards reaching a deal with Kabul comes after threats of a complete withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan aimed at pressuring Afghan President Hamid Karzai into signing the agreement. The Afghan president has said that he would not be intimidated by the United States or pressured into signing the deal and that the matter should be left to the next government after the April elections in Afghanistan.

He said that Kabul could not approve an agreement without guarantees that the United States would halt its deadly airstrikes on residential areas of Afghanistan and help broker a peace process with the Taliban. Washington has designed the deal to provide soldiers staying in Afghanistan beyond 2014 with immunity from prosecution under Afghan law. The soldiers will supposedly be judged in U.S. courts, but the Afghan government has rejected this.

There are currently over 80,000 foreign troops, most of them Americans, deployed in Afghanistan.

Edited by Juan Leandro
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