Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he will wait until his country's presidential elections in April before a security agreement with the United States is signed.
In an interview with U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty, 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 said the United States must not interfere in Afghanistan's elections in April.
Afghanistan's grand assembly, or Loya Jirga, has urged Mr. Karzai to immediately sign the agreement, which calls for U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan after 2014 to help the government in its war against the Taliban.
In a separate interview with Afghan television station TOLO, U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said she was disappointed by the end of a meeting Monday with Mr. Karzai that he was not prepared to promptly sign the agreement.
Rice said Mr. Karzai must sign it by the end of this year, or the U.S. will have no choice but to withdraw all troops after 2014.
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.
During the meeting Monday in Kabul, Mr. Karzai told Rice the winner of the country's next presidential election should sign the agreement.
U.S. officials have rejected a delay, saying they would not be able to form long-term plans on a troop presence without a deal in place by the end of this year.
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.