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Karzai may not sign bilateral security agreement with White House: intelligence director
The U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper said on Tuesday that Afghan President Hamid Karzai may not sign a bilateral security agreement with the United States.
When asked at a Congress hearing if it would be best if Washington simply waited for the election of a new Afghan president for the signing of an agreement, Clapper said that "I don't believe that President Karzai is going to sign it."
The Obama administration has been pressing Karzai to sign a security pact that would authorize U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan after 2014. Karzai has refused so far to sign, although Washington insists a deal must be approved before it will agree to leave a troop contingent in Afghanistan.
The Wall Street Journal on Monday also reported that the U.S. military has revised plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan since the White House was frustrated by Afghan President Hamid Karzai who said signing a security pact with the U.S. should be left to his successor.
According to the newspaper, the option for waiting reflects a growing belief in Washington that there is little chance of repairing relations with Karzai and getting him to sign the bilateral security agreement (BSA) before elections scheduled for the spring.
The military plan is the most significant example to date of how the U.S. has sought to minimize its reliance on Karzai, whose refusal to sign the security agreement amid a flurry of anti- American statements has upset Washington policy makers. The White House has said Karzai's refusal has raised prospects that President Barack Obama will order a complete U.S. troop withdrawal this year. Afghan officials had no immediate comment.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has said repeatedly in recent weeks that the U.S. wants the Afghan government to sign the security agreement in matter of "weeks."
The revised drawdown schedule is based on a new plan the Pentagon presented to the White House in January that calls for keeping 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014 at a limited number of bases.
While the U.S. military now believes it can wait until the summer -or longer - to decide on a post-2014 presence, other NATO allies have told the Pentagon that they are more concerned about further delays in getting a security agreement.
Unlike the U.S., these countries don't have the equipment and military capabilities needed to wait until the fall to make a final decision. The NATO side also expressed concerns that Karzai was unlikely to sign a pact and would probably leave the choice for his successor.
[Source: Xinhua, Washington, 11Feb14]
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