KERRY: AGREEMENT REACHED ON US-AFGHAN SECURITY PACT

Fox News on November 20, 2013, reported that Secretary of State John Kerry announced that he and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have reached an agreement on a critical security pact governing the presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014. Excerpts below:

The document will be presented to a meeting of tribal elders for their approval on November 21.

“I’m pleased to say that in a series of conversations with President Karzai over the course of this morning … that we reached an agreement as to the final language of the bilateral security agreement,” Kerry announced.

The deal is still not finalized. Approval by the traditional council of 3,000 prominent Afghans, known as the Loya Jirga, is not guaranteed. The group can revise or reject any clause of the draft agreement, and a flat-out rejection would most likely prevent the Afghan government from signing it.

“We have agreed on the language that would be submitted to the Loya Jirga, but they have to pass it,” Kerry said.

The biggest sticking point has been the Afghan government’s jurisdiction over U.S. troops. The Afghans wanted to try U.S. troops in Afghanistan if they commit a crime, something the U.S. ruled out.

There was also the issue of night raids — the details of what U.S. forces will be allowed to do if they remain after 2014 remains controversial.

While U.S. officials have not yet disclosed the number of U.S. troops they want to keep in Afghanistan post-2014, Kerry said the role of the U.S. military would be “limited.”

“It is entirely train, equip and assist. There is no combat role for United States forces, and the bilateral security agreement is a way to try to clarify for Afghans and for United States military forces exactly what the rules are with respect to that ongoing relationship,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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