Karzai: “Difficult” US Security Talks Ahead

Posted May 3rd, 2012 at 11:40 am (UTC-5)
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Afghan President Hamid Karzai has praised a new strategic pact with the United States but warns of tough negotiations on a U.S. military presence in Afghanistan past 2014.

Mr. Karzai said Thursday talks on a security arrangement past 2014 will be much more difficult than those held so far. He said any new round of discussions will include the very important topics of U.S. and Afghan sovereignty.

Mr. Karzai and U.S. President Barack Obama signed the strategic pact during Mr. Obama's unannounced visit to Afghanistan earlier this week.

The pact pledges U.S. aid for Afghanistan for at least a decade after the withdrawal of the last American combat troops in 2014, when Afghan forces are supposed to take full security control of their country.

The pact also allows the U.S. to potentially keep a small number of troops in Afghanistan after 2014 for the continued training of Afghan forces and targeted operations against al-Qaida.

The U.S. and Afghanistan agreed to negotiate within the next year the details of any extended U.S. troop presence.

Mr. Obama's unannounced visit to Afghanistan was timed to mark the first anniversary of the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.