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Kerry eases deadline for signing Afghan troops deal

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday appeared to give Afghan President Hamid Karzai extra time to sign a bilateral security deal, saying the pact did not have to be concluded by January.

world Updated: Dec 15, 2013 23:29 IST
John Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday appeared to give Afghan President Hamid Karzai extra time to sign a bilateral security deal, saying the pact did not have to be concluded by January.

And while he said it must be signed as soon as possible, he raised the option for the first time that the deal governing the presence of US troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014 could even by inked by Karzai’s successor, who will be chosen in April elections.

The United States wants the deal to ensure legal protection for any troops left behind in a training role after the international forces leave in late 2014. Washington has warned that, without a pact, it may pull all its military out.

In an interview, the top US diplomat stressed the bilateral security agreement needed to be signed as soon a possible. “If American forces were not there, I think there would be serious challenges with respect to Afghanistan’s security,” he said.