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.
— 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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid