News / Asia

US Stresses Importance of Signing Afghan Security Pact by End of Year

White House Deputy press secretary Josh Earnest takes a question during the daily news briefing at the White House, Nov. 21, 2013.
White House Deputy press secretary Josh Earnest takes a question during the daily news briefing at the White House, Nov. 21, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
— The United States says Afghanistan needs to approve and sign by the end of the year the Bilateral Security Agreement being considered by the assembly of Afghan tribal elders, or Loya Jirga, in Kabul.  

Questions at Thursday's White House news briefing, and at the State Department, focused on remarks Afghan President Hamid Karzai made in Kabul as he presented the Bilateral Security Agreement to the Loya Jirga.

Karzai said he supports the agreement, but prefers it be signed after Afghanistan's presidential elections next April.  He also told tribal leaders that he does not trust the United States, and U.S. officials do not trust him.

Deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said Karzai's remarks about trust do not themselves jeopardize the agreement, but failure to sign by the end of this year would create problems for post-2014 planning.

"The presence that is in Afghanistan right now is a NATO presence.  So the United States needs to conduct some planning, both internally but also with our allies, to coordinate what our post-2014 presence will look like," said Earnest.

President Obama has not yet decided how many U.S. troops might remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014.  As of early next year, only about 34,000 will still be in the country.

Earnest would not say whether a so-called zero option - of pulling all U.S. forces out of Afghanistan - is still possible.  He said that no decision has been made.

Both the U.S.-Afghan Bilateral Security Agreement, and a Strategic Partnership Agreement signed in 2012 when Obama visited Kabul, envision a U.S. commitment to Afghanistan to at least 2024.

Both the White House and State Department have pushed back on the notion that a large troop presence would be needed for that length of time.  Again, Josh Earnest.

"If there are troops in Afghanistan after January 1, 2015, what we're talking about is a number of troops on the order of a few thousand, so nothing like the scale of the military buildup that we have seen in earlier years, and we would anticipate that it would not require 10 years to complete that mission," he said.

In a letter, President Obama assured President Karzai that the U.S. military will not conduct raids on Afghan homes except under "extraordinary circumstances" involving urgent risks to U.S. nationals, and will respect Afghan sovereignty.

U.S. troops would have a narrowly defined role of continuing counterterrorism operations against what the administration calls remnants of al-Qaida, and continuing to train Afghan government forces to sustain their ability to shoulder security responsibilities.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid