Washington: Terming the signing of a much-delayed bilateral security agreement between Afghanistan and the US as 'historic', President Barack Obama on Tuesday said it would help target the remnants of al Qaeda in the war-torn country.
"Today we mark an historic day in the US-Afghan partnership that will help advance our shared interests and the long-term security of Afghanistan," Obama said in a statement.
"This agreement represents an invitation from the Afghan government to strengthen the relationship we have built over the past 13 years and provides our military service members the necessary legal framework to carry out two critical missions after 2014: targeting the remnants of al-Qaeda and training, advising, and assisting Afghan National Security Forces," he said.
The signing of the BSA also reflects the implementation of the Strategic Partnership Agreement the two governments signed in May 2012, he noted.
Earlier today, Afghan and NATO officials also signed the NATO Status of Forces Agreement, giving forces from Allied and partner countries the legal protections necessary to carry out the NATO Resolute Support mission when ISAF comes to an end later this year.
"These agreements follow an historic Afghan election in which the Afghan people exercised their right to vote and ushered in the first peaceful democratic transfer of power in their nation's history," he said.
Hamid Karzai, who stepped down as president yesterday, had refused to sign the BSA, indicating the deteriorating Afghan-US relations after the Taliban was ousted in 2001.
"The BSA reflects our continued commitment to support the new Afghan Unity Government, and we look forward to working with this new government to cement an enduring partnership that strengthens Afghan sovereignty, stability, unity, and prosperity, and that contributes to our shared goal of defeating al-Qaeda and its extremist affiliates," Obama said.