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US Security Adviser, Karzai Tussle Over Security Pact

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice has told Afghan President Hamid Karzai that the U.S. will pull all troops out of his country after 2014 if he does not promptly sign a security agreement.

During a meeting in Kabul on Monday, Mr. Karzai told Rice he will not back down from his refusal to sign the agreement, choosing to defer it to his successor.

Instead, Mr. Karzai laid out new demands, including further assurances that U.S. forces will not raid Afghan homes and that America express a sincere commitment to help start stalled peace talks with the Taliban. He also reiterated his demand that the United States commit to holding free and transparent elections in Afghanistan on April 5.

The meeting came while Rice was visiting U.S. troops on her first overseas trip as President Barack Obama's top national security aide.

On Sunday, Mr. Karzai ignored a recommendation by the country's grand assembly, or Loya Jirga, to immediately sign a new bilateral security agreement with the United States.



He said 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 Sunday and called for the president to sign it immediately.

Mr. Karzai repeated his position that a signing should wait until after Afghanistan's presidential election in April.

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.

The security agreement spells out terms under which U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan to assist the government in its war against Taliban insurgents.

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

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