US, Afghanistan narrowing differences

Secretary of State John Kerry looks out the window of a helicopter en route to the ISAF headquarters in Kabul on Oct. 11, 2013.

US officials say differences over a bilateral agreement between Washington and Kabul were narrowed after talks between Secretary of State John Kerry and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The talks are œat a pivotal period” but still œdoable,” one official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters on Friday.

The two officials met earlier in the day after Kerry arrived in Kabul for urgent security talks as an end of October deadline looms for completing a deal that would allow US troops to remain in Afghanistan after 2014.

œThis is not about Secretary Kerry coming in to close a deal,” another official from the State Department said.

œWhat this is really about is building momentum for the negotiations and helping establish the conditions for success in negotiations going forward,” he added.

American officials said Kerry and Karzai would meet again on Saturday over the Bilateral Security Agreement.

The Afghan president has denounced Washington™s demands as unreasonable, saying he is in no hurry to sign an agreement with the United States.

Despite American eagerness to finish a pact this month, Karzai also suggested that perhaps his successor could resume negotiations with the US next year.

œIf the agreement doesn™t suit us, then, of course, they can leave,” Karzai said. œThe agreement has to suit Afghanistan™s interests and purposes. If it doesn™t suit us and if it doesn™t suit them, then naturally we will go separate ways.”

Karzai demanded for American guarantees against future foreign intervention and he is also opposed to US demands for any post-2014 force to be able to conduct counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan.

The United States wants to keep as many as 10,000 troops in Afghanistan, but if no agreement is signed, all American troops would have to leave by Dec. 31, 2014.

There currently are an estimated 87,000 US-led troops in the country, including about 52,000 Americans.


Copyright: Press TV