Afghanistan wants to delay crucial U.S. security deal

Afghan President Hamid Karzai told his countrymen on Thursday a vital security pact with the United States should not come into effect until after next year’s election and conceded there was little trust between the two countries.

About 2,500 tribal elders and political leaders from all around Afghanistan gathered in the capital, Kabul, for a Loya Jirga, or grand council, to debate whether to allow U.S. troops to stay after the 2014 drawdown of foreign forces.

Without an accord on the so-called Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), the United States says it could pull out all its troops at the end of 2014 and leave Afghan forces to fight the Taliban insurgency on their own.

In a statement certain to irritate the United States, which is keen to clinch the deal as soon as possible, Karzai told the assembly any agreement on the status of U.S. forces would have to wait until after a presidential election in April.

“This pact should be signed when the election has already taken place, properly and with dignity,” Karzai, who cannot run in the 2014 vote under the constitution, told the elders.

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