Afghan Parliament Approves Strategic Partnership with US

Posted May 26th, 2012 at 10:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Afghanistan's parliament on Saturday ratified a strategic partnership agreement between Kabul and Washington.

The deal was approved in the Walasi Jirga with more than 150 lawmakers turning out for the vote. Only a handful of lawmakers voted against the measure.

The pact covers security, economics and governance, and spells out the U.S. relationship with Afghanistan beyond 2014 when most NATO forces are planning to conclude their combat role. It does not commit the U.S. to any specific troop presence, but pledges U.S. aid for Afghanistan for at least a decade after most foreign combat forces leave.

The agreement also allows the U.S. to keep a reduced number of troops in Afghanistan for the continued training of Afghan forces and targeted operations against al-Qaida.

The U.S. embassy in Kabul welcomed the ratification. Its spokesperson, citing President Barack Obama, told VOA that “the strategic partnership agreement is a clear message from the United States to the Afghan people that, 'As you stand, you will not stand alone.'”

President Obama and his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, signed the agreement early this month in Kabul.

In another development, NATO says four of its service members died in bomb blasts Saturday in southern Afghanistan.