Karzai: Sign US-Afghan security pact next year
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — President Hamid Karzai urged tribal elders today to approve a security pact with Washington that could keep thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan until 2024, but he added a wrinkle that he prefers his successor sign the document after elections next April.
Karzai's move could be an attempt to avoid taking personal responsibility for an agreement that many Afghans see as selling out to foreign interests.
His remarks to the 2,500 members of the consultative council known as the Loya Jirga came as President Barack Obama made a personal plea for quick passage of the agreement in a letter promising to respect Afghanistan's sovereignty and only raid homes when U.S. lives are at risk.
The Loya Jirga is widely expected to approve the agreement, and Karzai's remarks could be seen as last-minute move to force the gathering to ask him to sign the long-delayed accord — thus shifting the responsibility for the deal away from him to the elders.