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US troop accord to be signed in 'good time': Afghan official

05 December, 2013

BRUSSELS: Afghanistan wants and will sign a key security pact with Washington in "good time" to ensure NATO maintains a training mission after it ends combat operations there next year, an official said on Wednesday.

As US and NATO officials warn that Kabul must sign soon or run the risk of losing post-2014 aid, an Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman insisted the government "not only desires but also supports signing" the Bilateral Security Agreement.

Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai said his minister had told a NATO meeting that the government had two conditions, the first being the launch of "meaningful peace" talks with the Taliban rebels.

The other is the "complete cessation of any military operations against Afghan homes", Mosazai said. Afghan "homes are not where the terrorists are," he added, stressing that only local forces should be used in such operations.

Asked about suggestions that Karzai might instead delegate a member of the government to sign the BSA, Mosazai said that the decision rested solely with the president.

As for the possibility of an aid cut-off, Mosazai said "we do not anticipate such a scenario", stressing that both sides shared common interests. The United States and NATO has a stake in "maintaining a long-term security engagement with Afghanistan", he said.

"We do not look at (aid) as charity but rather as a worthwhile investment in the security" of Afghanistan and the wider region, he added.

End.

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