Afghanistan, US Finalize Strategic Partnership Agreement

Posted April 23rd, 2012 at 2:05 am (UTC-5)
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Afghanistan and the United States have finalized the initial draft of a strategic partnership agreement outlining their relationship following the 2014 withdrawal of Western combat troops from the country.

No details were released about the content of the draft agreement, which will now be reviewed by the U.S. and Afghan presidents, the U.S. Congress and the Afghan parliament.

A statement from Afghan President Hamid Karzai's office says the draft agreement was initialed Sunday by Afghan National Security Advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker during a ceremony in Kabul.

U.S. officials say President Barack Obama expects to sign the document before a NATO summit in Chicago next month.

Negotiations on the deal saw progress recently after the U.S. agreed to Afghanistan's demand for full control over the U.S.-run Bagram prison and an end to controversial special forces night raids against Taliban insurgents.

President Karzai has said he wanted a written commitment of $2 billion a year from the United States after the withdrawal.

U.S. officials said they could pay up to about $4 billion a year to fund Afghan forces. But they also said the strategic pact is not meant to be a detailed aid package, but rather a broad framework committing both sides to continue to work together for years to come.

Meanwhile, NATO says two of its service members died Sunday in an explosion in eastern Afghanistan.

The international alliance did not identify the service members' nationalities.