Kabul rebuffs US demand to sign security deal soon

Kabul rebuffs US demand to sign security deal soon

KABUL - Afghanistan on Friday rebuffed a US demand to sign a key security pact as soon as possible, insisting the document must wait until after next year's presidential election.

Washington warned Afghanistan Thursday to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) pact as soon as possible, with top officials hinting that delaying beyond the end of this year could mean no post-2014 US troop presence.

President Hamid Karzai had said the pact currently under consideration by a loya jirga, a meeting of tribal chieftains, could only be signed "when our elections are conducted, correctly and with dignity".

His spokesman Aimal Faizi stood firm on the issue on Friday.

"Security, peace and good elections are key to the signing of the BSA," Aimal Faizi told AFP.

"Let's wait and see what will the loya jirga decide on the document. If approved, as the president said, it will be signed after elections."

On Thursday, around 2,500 tribal chieftains, community elders and politicians began four days of debating the deal with the US which will shape Washington's future military presence in Afghanistan.

Supporters of the deal say it is vital for after 2014, when the bulk of NATO's 75,000 troops will pull out.

The Taliban insurgency this year has reached levels of violence not seen since 2010, according to the United Nations.

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