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US wants Afghanistan to sign security deal in `coming weeks`

PTI | Last Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2014 - 08:08

Washington: The United States wants the bilateral security agreement (BSA) with the Afghan Government to be signed in matter of weeks if US troops are to remain in the country after 2014, the White House has said.

"We would like to make these decisions in the coming weeks. We don`t want to see it delayed until after the election. The President has been very clear to us that even as we plan for potential options for a troop presence after 2014 in the event of a BSA, that we`re not going to keep troops in Afghanistan if there`s not a BSA," Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said.

In response to a question Rhodes said: "We also have to plan for a contingency of not having troops in Afghanistan."
"Now we`re doing planning on all of these areas, but we need to get certainty on the BSA question before we can make a decision about the size of a follow-on force," Rhodes said yesterday.

The White House has made clear that the bilateral security agreement, that has been negotiated is a good agreement for both the United States and Afghanistan, should be signed by the Afghan government, he said.

About 58,000 NATO-led combat troops still in Afghanistan are due to leave by the end of 2014.
Washington is proposing about 10,000 US soldiers to be deployed from 2015 to train and assist Afghan security forces in their battle against the Taliban militants.

The United States has a significant amount of planning to do, both as relates to its drawdown over the course of 2014 and potentially as it relates to any follow-on force, the top Obama aide said.

"And if we don`t know that we have a BSA, we cannot plan to keep a troop presence in Afghanistan after 2014," he argued.
"We need to be able to get together with our NATO allies because their drawdown is going to be affected by whether or not there`s a BSA... So our ability to coordinate the alliance very much depends upon the certainty that we`re going to have a BSA. And so that`s one critical component of this," Rhodes said.

The nature of our drawdown is affected by this because if we have a BSA, we will have to design a force to keep in Afghanistan after 2014 to carry those two missions, he said and added that if we don`t, the drawdown in 2014 will have to be all the way to having zero troops left in the country.

First Published: Thursday, January 30, 2014 - 08:08

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