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Afghan President Delays Signing of Deal with US

Afghanistan's president has ignored a recommendation by the country's grand assembly, or Loya Jirga, to immediately sign a new bilateral security agreement with the United States.

Hamid Karzai said Sunday Afghanistan needs more time to ensure the United States is committed to peace.

The Loya Jirga endorsed the bilateral security agreement with the United States on Sunday and called the president to sign it immediately.

Mr. Karzai repeated his previous position that he would wait until after the upcoming presidential election in April to sign the deal allowing a continued presence of some U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014.

"We have a condition in order to have the bilateral security agreement. Our condition is the implementation of peace in our country, if peace is not established this agreement will bring misery for our country. We are ready to sign this agreement based on your Loya Jirga demands, but we want America to bring us peace."

President Karzai also stipulated there could be no more U.S. military raids on Afghan homes

U.S. officials have rejected a delay, saying they would not be able to form long-term plans on a troop presence without an agreement in place by the end of this year. U.S.-led international combat forces in Afghanistan are set to withdraw by the end of next year.

Assembly leader Sibghatullah Mojaddedi said Saturday Mr. Karzai has no right to postpone the signing and a delay would not be in Afghanistan's interest.

Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister and presidential candidate next year's poll, described Karzai as "a bit unpredictable" and war.

"This issue and its significance would have required more sense of responsibility towards the nation, towards the future of the country than what he has shown already."

The dispute has overshadowed the meeting of some 2,500 tribal, community and elected leaders, who were asked to approve the text of the Bilateral Security Agreement, or BSA, before it goes before the Afghan parliament.

The draft agreement spells out terms under which international forces will remain in Afghanistan to assist the government in its war against Taliban insurgents.

The majority of Afghan tribal leaders supported the agreement, which would take effect January 1, 2015, and keep U.S. troops and civilian personnel in Afghanistan for at least another decade.

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