US, Afghanistan to hold talks on security deal
30 January, 2013
WASHINGTON: The United States and Afghanistan this week launch a third round of talks to try to reach an elusive bilateral security deal as Washington steps up its troop withdrawals, a US official said on Monday.
The negotiations come after Afghan President Hamid Karzai visited earlier this month and held talks with US President Barack Obama, during which the two men appeared to have hammered out some of the main sticking points.
"We're obviously hoping that we can make some progress following up on the meeting of the two presidents," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told journalists, adding they were trying to agree on "the legal basis for our security support after 2014."
"But we've also made clear that we expect that this is going to be a negotiation that's going to go on throughout the year," she said, adding that she did not believe an agreement was imminent.
After their White House talks, Obama said NATO forces would have a "very limited" role in the country after 2014, at the end of more than 13 years in the country where US-led forces toppled the Taliban leadership in 2001.
But Obama warned that Karzai, with whom he has had a somewhat testy relationship, would have to accept the security agreement still under discussion granting legal immunity to US troops who remain behind.