NATO opens talks with Afghanistan

Vikrant

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NATO is negotiating with Afghanistan over a proposed military force to stay in the country after next year, but says no deal will be signed until after a separate agreement with the US is completed.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the US have been in a long and bitter stand-off over the Bilateral Security Agreement, which would see several thousand US troops deployed in Afghanistan after 2014.

Karzai initially endorsed the BSA, but has since declined to sign it, outraging US officials and lawmakers who have threatened a complete forces pullout.

'The message of the United States and its allies in Europe is clear: the Bilateral Security Agreement should be signed without any more delay,' Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said negotiations had begun between NATO senior civilian representative Maurits Jochems and Afghan national security adviser Rangin Spanta.

'I welcome the start of these talks today ... while stressing that the NATO Status of Forces Agreement will not be concluded or signed until the signature of the Bilateral Security Agreement between the Governments of Afghanistan and the United States,' Rasmussen said in a statement on Saturday.

Hagel hailed the start of negotiations and was 'pleased' by the move, according to his spokesman.

'NATO's decision to move forward with negotiations on a SOFA is yet another demonstration of the international community's willingness to support Afghanistan after 2014.'

Rasmussen said the Status of Forces Agreement was essential for the NATO-led mission to 'mission to train, advise and assist' the Afghan army and police after 2014.

Karzai, who is due to stand down after elections next year, has warned that he will not allow a continued NATO presence if it meant 'more bombs and killings'.

A complete pullout of foreign troops would raise fears of a collapse of the still fragile Afghan forces and a resurgence of the extremist Taliban regime that was ousted in a US-led invasion in 2001.

NATO opens talks with Afghanistan | Sky News Australia
 

bianco

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What, Karzai doesn't want the Taliban and their supporters bombed and killed?

Would he rather they took over again?

He was reportedly threatening to go join the Taliban in recent times;

2010

Karzai threatens to join Taliban - World - CBC News

Karzai threatens to join Taliban

Afghan President Hamid Karzai twice threatened to quit politics and join the Taliban if the West continued to pressure him to enact reforms, legislators said Monday.
 

waltky

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Granny says Karzai's bein' an a-hole...
:mad:
US: Lack of security pact could cost Afghanistan
February 28, 2014 WASHINGTON — U.S. willingness to wait to sign a new security pact with the next Afghan president offers hope that a deal can still be made, but the ongoing delay could mean fewer American troops and fewer dollars for the impoverished country, the top U.S. envoy to Afghanistan said Friday.
American support of the war continues to wane with Afghan President Hamid Karzai's refusal to sign a bilateral security agreement, which would provide a legal basis for some U.S. troops to stay in the country after the international combat mission ends this year. The agreement was to have been signed last fall. "Unfortunately, President Karzai's decision not to sign the accord that he negotiated, that he, in fact, is not seeking to change, and that he agrees is important to Afghanistan has thrown this timetable badly off," James Dobbins said in a speech at the United States Institute of Peace.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama told Karzai that he's open to waiting until later this year to conclude the bilateral security agreement with Karzai's successor but that "this delay would not be without cost." Despite widespread support in his country for signing the deal, Karzai has said he would prefer that his successor be the one to sign it. "While we still continue to plan for a residual force to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces and to conduct limited counterterrorism missions, the scale of this commitment may well wane as uncertainty over our welcome persists, and we will also need to plan for the alternative of full withdrawal," Dobbins said. Dobbins spent most of his speech citing scores of examples of progress that has been made in Afghanistan related to health, education, the upcoming presidential election, business and development and the building of institutions. But he said those advances remain fragile.

He also cited a recent study, ordered by Congress, which said international trainers and advisers will be needed in Afghanistan at least through 2018. The study was conducted by CNA Strategic Studies, a federally funded research group. "In the absence of a continued train, advise and assist U.S. and NATO military mission, Afghanistan's descent into more widespread violence and political disintegration is likely to be more rapid," Dobbins said. He acknowledged Americans' fatigue over U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, but he said most Americans favor a gradual, responsible withdrawal and a residual force to stay in the country after the end of this year. "This margin of support is narrow and likely to diminish further as long as uncertainty about our welcome persists," Dobbins said.

US: Lack of security pact could cost Afghanistan - Middle East - Stripes
See also:

Officials: Al-Qaida plots comeback in Afghanistan
February 28, 2014 ~ Al-Qaida's Afghanistan leader is laying the groundwork to relaunch his war-shattered organization once the United States and international forces withdraw from the country, as they have warned they will do without a security agreement from the Afghan government, U.S. officials say.
Farouq al-Qahtani al-Qatari has been cementing local ties and bringing in small numbers of experienced militants to train a new generation of fighters, and U.S. military and intelligence officials say they have stepped up drone and jet missile strikes against him and his followers in the mountainous eastern provinces of Kunar and Nuristan. The objective is to keep him from restarting the large training camps that once drew hundreds of followers before the U.S.-led war began. The officials say the counterterrorism campaign - a key reason the Obama administration agreed to keep any troops in Afghanistan after 2014 - could be jeopardized by the possibility of a total pullout.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said the number of al-Qaida members in Afghanistan has risen but not much higher than as many as the several hundred or so the U.S. has identified in the past. "I think most are waiting for the U.S. to fully pull out by 2014," he said. The administration would like to leave up to 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after combat operations end on Dec. 31, to continue training Afghan forces and conduct counterterrorism missions. But without the agreement that would authorize international forces to stay in Afghanistan, President Barack Obama has threatened to pull all troops out, and NATO forces would follow suit. After talking to Afghan President Hamid Karzai this week, Obama ordered the Pentagon to begin planning for the so-called zero option.

U.S. military and intelligence officials say unless they can continue to fly drones and jets from at least one air base in Afghanistan — either Bagram in the north or Jalalabad in the east — al-Qahtani and his followers could eventually plan new attacks against U.S. targets, although experts do not consider him one of the most dangerous al-Qaida leaders. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss publicly the secret counterterrorism campaign or intelligence.

Administration officials have hoped that the U.S. could eventually wind down counterterrorism operations like drone strikes in the region after reducing the al-Qaida network, leaving local forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan to control the remnants. But al-Qaida is not weakened enough yet, and U.S. officials have testified that the inexperienced Afghan forces aren't ready to take over the task unaided.

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