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Hagel Given Assurances on Afghan Security Deal

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says Afghanistan's defense minister has assured him a security pact with the United States that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has not yet signed will be signed in a "timely manner."

Hagel met with Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammad in Kabul Saturday. The U.S. defense secretary said he had no plans to meet with President Karzai.

Hagel said Afghanistan's grand assembly, or Loya Jirga, has urged Mr. Karzai to sign the pact.



"The Loya Jirga came forward in a rather overwhelming and clearly pronounced way, recommending that the bilateral security agreement with the United States be signed by the president. They also emphasized in that recommendation to the president that it be signed very timely."



Mr. Karzai has refused to sign the security pact, which calls for some U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan after 2014 to help train Afghan forces in their fight against the Taliban.

Mr. Karzai has said he wants his successor to decide on the security agreement after his country's presidential election in April.

The U.S. has said Mr. Karzai must sign the pact by the end of this year, or the U.S. will have no choice but to withdraw all troops after 2014.

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