( Karzai resorts to extortion.... US should frankly tell him to take a hike .... )
( After Syria and Iran bluster by US and then perceived public folding of their proverbial tents , Karzai not taking US seriously either ..... )
Karzai refuses to sign security pact until 'US brings peace' despite assembly backing
Published time: November 24, 2013 08:12
Edited time: November 24, 2013 09:25
Edited time: November 24, 2013 09:25
Afghanistan’s national assembly of elders has approved the signing of a security pact with Washington that would leave behind a residual US troop presence after withdrawal in 2014. President Hamid Karzai has said he will not sign the deal immediately.
The Loya Jirga voted in favor of a security deal with Washington that would allow US troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014 to train national security forces, a deputy speaker of the assembly told the BBC. The assembly is made up of 2,500 elders, tribal leaders and other influential figures in Afghanistan.
"Given the current situation in, and Afghanistan's need... the contents of this agreement as a whole is endorsed by the members of this Loya Jirga," Fazul Karim Imaq, a deputy of the loya jirga said, reading a declaration reached at the end of the four-day grand meeting.
"The loya jirga requests the president to sign the agreement before the end of 2013," Imaq said.
President Karzai said he would not sign the deal immediately and that the US needed to bring peace to Afghanistan before any agreement was reached.
“If there is no peace then this agreement will bring misfortune to Afghanistan,” Karzai said in an address to the Loya Jirga. “Peace is our precondition. America should bring us peace and then we will sign it.”
Washington has criticized President Hamid Karzai’s government for delaying the signing of the treaty, insisting there must be a decision before the end of this year. The White House wants to finalize plans of how many troops will remain behind following the scheduled withdrawal of forces at the end of next year.
Secretary of State John Kerry warned Karzai in a telephone call on Friday that delays were“unacceptable” would risk the total withdrawal of US forces.
In the call, Kerry told Karzai that waiting several more months to sign the pact would "make it impossible for the U.S. and allies to plan for a post-2014 presence," said State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki.
24 November 2013 Last updated at 05:34 ET
Afghanistan elders seek US security pact signing in 2013
Afghan elders at a grand assembly in Kabul have called for a security deal with the US to be signed this year.
The pact allows thousands of US troops to remain in Afghanistan once combat operations end in 2014.
But President Hamid Karzai, who wants to delay the deal, told delegates he would only sign it once the US had brought peace to his country.
The US has said it is neither "practical nor possible" to delay the signing.
The Bilateral Security Agreement also has to be approved by the Afghan parliament.
The deal under discussion may see 15,000 foreign troops remain after 2014, although the US says it has not yet taken a decision on any presence.
The soldiers who stay beyond 2014, when most foreign combat forces leave, would primarily train and mentor Afghan forces. Some special forces would stay to conduct "counter-terror operations".'Tense exchanges'
More than 2,000 elders have been taking part in the grand assembly of elders, or Loya Jirga, meeting behind closed doors in Kabul for the past four days.
"Given the current situation in, and Afghanistan's need... the contents of this agreement as a whole is endorsed by the members of this Loya Jirga," a declaration reached at the end of the meeting said, quoted by AFP news agency.
"The Loya Jirga requests the president to sign the agreement before the end of 2013."
Opening the meeting on Thursday, the Afghan president urged delegates to support the pact, but said he would not sign it until after the election scheduled for April 2014.
The BBC's Karen Allen, in Kabul, says the vast majority of elders wanted the deal signed within a month.
The assembly's chairman, Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, said he will resign his official posts and leave the country if the security deal is not signed by the end of the year.
The past few days have seen tense diplomatic telephone exchanges between US Secretary of State John Kerry and President Karzai, our correspondent says.
Washington insists the deal - which has taken months to negotiate - must be signed before the end of this year in order to secure plans for how many troops will remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
State department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: "We believe that signing sooner rather than later is essential to give Afghans certainty about their future before the upcoming elections, and enable the United States and other partners to plan for US presence after 2014.
"It is neither practical nor possible for us to further delay because of the uncertainty it would create."
Security has been tight for the meeting after a suicide bombing last weekend near the huge tent where it is being held.
The Taliban has branded the meeting a US-designed plot, and has vowed to pursue and punish its delegates as traitors if they approve the deal.