US wants to sign Afghan security pact now, not after new Afghan president takes office

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Associated Press

Posted on November 21, 2013 at 10:02 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 21 at 10:02 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — There's agreement on the language of a U.S.-Afghan security agreement, but as tribal elders review it, differences have emerged between Washington and President Hamid Karzai over how quickly it should be signed.

The White House says it's important to have it done by the end of the year to allow the U.S. and its allies to plan their military presence in Afghanistan after the NATO-led combat mission ends.

However, Karzai says he wants Afghanistan's next president to sign the deal. The problem is that person will not be chosen until April at the earliest, when elections are held. That timing could make the draft document a campaign issue and complicate U.S. efforts to prepare for a residual force to battle terrorists and train, equip and assist Afghan forces beyond 2014.

U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins tells the "PBS NewsHour" that U.S. officials are trying to get Karzai to change his mind.

%@AP Links

258-w-33-(Sagar Meghani (SAH'-gur meh-GAH'-nee), AP national security correspondent, with White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest)--The White House is responding to a surprise last-minute wrinkle from Afghanistan's leader over a security pact with the U.S. AP National Security Correspondent Sagar Meghani reports from the Pentagon. (21 Nov 2013)

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260-a-12-(Josh Earnest, White House deputy press secretary, at news conference)-"Afghanistan in 2014"-White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest says it's important that Afghanistan pass and sign the security pact this year and not wait until the spring. (21 Nov 2013)

<<CUT *260 (11/21/13)££ 00:12 "Afghanistan in 2014"

261-a-05-(Josh Earnest, White House deputy press secretary, at news conference)-"presence will continue"-White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest says it's not a given that U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan after the combat mission ends next year. (21 Nov 2013)

<<CUT *261 (11/21/13)££ 00:05 "presence will continue"

APPHOTO XRG124: Members of the Afghan Loya Jirga gather outside the venue where the Loya Jirga is taking place in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has told a gathering of elders that he supports signing a security deal with the United States if safety and security conditions are met. Karzai spoke as the 2,500-member national consultative council of Afghan elders known as the Loya Jirga started in Kabul on Thursday. The four-day meeting will discuss the bilateral security pact that defines the role of thousands of U.S. troops who will remain after the NATO combat mission ends in 2014. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) (21 Nov 2013)

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APPHOTO XRG119: Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during the first day of the Loya Jirga in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. Karzai has told a gathering of elders that he supports signing a security deal with the United States if safety and security conditions are met. Karzai spoke as the 2,500-member national consultative council of Afghan elders known as the Loya Jirga started in Kabul on Thursday. The four-day meeting will discuss the bilateral security pact that defines the role of thousands of U.S. troops who will remain after the NATO combat mission ends in 2014. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) (21 Nov 2013)

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APPHOTO XRG101: Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during the first day of the Loya Jirga in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. Karzai has told a gathering of elders that he supports signing a security deal with the United States if safety and security conditions are met. Karzai spoke as the 2,500-member national consultative council of Afghan elders known as the Loya Jirga started in Kabul on Thursday. The four-day meeting will discuss the bilateral security pact that defines the role of thousands of U.S. troops who will remain after the NATO combat mission ends in 2014. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) (21 Nov 2013)

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APPHOTO XRG106: Members of the Afghan Loya Jirga attend a meeting in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has told a gathering of elders that he supports signing a security deal with the United States if safety and security conditions are met. Karzai spoke as the 2,500-member national consultative council of Afghan elders known as the Loya Jirga started in Kabul on Thursday. The four-day meeting will discuss the bilateral security pact that defines the role of thousands of U.S. troops who will remain after the NATO combat mission ends in 2014. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) (21 Nov 2013)

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APPHOTO XRG111: A member of the Afghan Loya Jirga holds a banner with Dari that reads, "the agreement with the America is selling out our country," during the meeting in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has told a gathering of elders that he supports signing a security deal with the United States if safety and security conditions are met. Karzai spoke as the 2,500-member national consultative council of Afghan elders known as the Loya Jirga started in Kabul on Thursday. The four-day meeting will discuss the bilateral security pact that defines the role of thousands of U.S. troops who will remain after the NATO combat mission ends in 2014. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) (21 Nov 2013)

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