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Kerry: U.S., Afghanistan agree on security pact

Nov. 20, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Afghan National Army soldier posts security Nov. 27 during a partnered patrol Nov. 27.
Afghan National Army soldier posts security Nov. 27 during a partnered patrol Nov. 27. (Marine Corps)
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WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that the United States and Afghan governments have agreed on terms for a security agreement that would allow an American military presence after 2014 when most coalition troops leave the country.

The agreement still must be reviewed by a loya jirga, or council, that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has convened this week. The council could raise objections or comments that might delay or even prevent a signing.

“We have agreed on the language that would be submitted to a loya jirga, but they have to pass it,” Kerry said.

The United States has said the post-2014 mission will include providing advisers for Afghanistan’s young military and a counter-terrorism force that would be authorized to target al-Qaida and its affiliates.

The agreement does not specify the size of the force that would remain after 2014 when the current mission ends. It provides a legal framework for a force when the current mission ends.

The bilateral security agreement provides the U.S. military legal jurisdiction over its forces, which was a critical requirement for the United States.

The terms of the agreement have been under negotiation for a year and sensitive issues may surface in the loya jirga.

Among the issues that have been raised by Karzai include night raids and concerns over civilian casualties.

“It’s very important for President Karzai to know that the issues that he’s raised with us for many years have been properly addressed, and it’s very important for us to know that issues we have raised with him for a number of years are properly addressed,” Kerry said.

But Kerry said there was never a discussion of the United States issuing an apology as part of the agreement.

“President Karzai didn’t ask for an apology,” Kerry said. “There was no discussion of an apology.”

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