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    Karzai Says Will Not Sign US Security Pact Now

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai is continuing to say that he will wait until his country's presidential election in April before signing a security pact with the United States.

    In an interview with U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty that aired Wednesday, Mr. Karzai said the agreement is in the best interests of his country. But he said the U.S. must first end attacks on Afghan homes and help jumpstart a stalled peace process before he will sign the pact.

    He also reiterated the United States must not interfere in Afghanistan's presidential election on April 5.



    Mr. Karzai appears to have slightly scaled back his demand that the U.S. guarantee the April election be free and fair following assurances he received during a Monday meeting with U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice.

    In a separate interview with Afghanistan's TOLO television, Rice said Mr. Karzai must sign the agreement by the end of this year, or the U.S. will have no choice but to withdraw all troops after 2014.

    Afghanistan's grand assembly, or Loya Jirga, has urged Mr. Karzai to immediately sign the pact, which calls for U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan after 2014 to help the government in its war against the Taliban.

    The security agreement would take take effect January 1, 2015. All international combat forces in Afghanistan are set to withdraw by the end of 2014.

    Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty are both funded by the U.S. government under the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which also oversees the Voice of America.

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