World

April 24, 2012

U.S., Afghanistan reach deal on strategic pact

by Heidi Vogt
Associated Press

The United States and Afghanistan reached a deal April 22 on a long-delayed strategic partnership agreement that ensures Americans will provide military and financial support to the Afghan people for at least a decade beyond 2014, the deadline for most foreign forces to withdraw.

The pact is key to the U.S. exit strategy in Afghanistan because it establishes guidelines for any American forces who remain after the withdrawal deadline and for financial help to the impoverished country and its security forces.

For the Afghan government, it is also a way to show its people that their U.S. allies are not just walking away.

“Our goal is an enduring partnership with Afghanistan that strengthens Afghan sovereignty, stability and prosperity and that contributes to our shared goal of defeating al Qaeda and its extremist affiliates,” said U.S. Embassy spokesman Gavin Sundwall. “We believe this agreement supports that goal.”

After 10 years of U.S.-led war, insurgents linked to the Taliban and al Qaeda remain a threat and as recently as a week ago launched a large-scale attack on the capital Kabul and three other cities.

The draft agreement was worked out and initialed by Afghan National Security Adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker. It must still be reviewed in both countries and signed afterward by the Afghan and American presidents.

U.S. forces have already started pulling out of Afghanistan, and the majority of combat troops are scheduled to depart by the end of 2014. But the U.S. is expected to maintain a large presence in the country for years after, including special forces, military trainers and government-assistance programs.

The agreement is both an achievement and a relief for both sides, coming after months of turmoil that seemed to put the entire alliance in peril. It shows that the two governments are still committed to working together and capable of coming to some sort of understanding.

“The document finalized today provides a strong foundation for the security of Afghanistan, the region and the world and is a document for the development of the region,” Spanta said in a statement issued by President Hamid Karzai’s office.

Neither Afghan nor U.S. officials would comment on the details of the agreement. A Western official familiar with the negotiations said it outlines a strategic partnership for 10 years beyond 2014.

Reaching any agreement is likely to be seen as a success given more than a year and a half of negotiations during which the entire effort appeared in danger of falling apart multiple times.

Since the beginning of the year, U.S.-Afghan relations have been strained by an Internet video of American Marines urinating on the corpses of presumed Taliban fighters, by Quran burnings at a U.S. base that sparked days of deadly protests and by the alleged killing spree by a U.S. soldier in a southern Afghan village.

Tensions were further heightened by a spate of turncoat attacks by Afghan security forces on their international counterparts.

White House National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said President Barack Obama expects to sign the document before a NATO summit in Chicago next month, meeting the deadline set by the two sides. Many had started to worry in recent weeks that Karzai and Obama would miss that goal as talks dragged on and Karzai continued to announce new demands for the document.

Much of the disagreement was about how to handle activities that the Afghan government saw as threatening its sovereignty, in particular, night raids and the detention of Afghan citizens by international forces. Those two major issues were resolved earlier this year in separate memorandums of understanding.

But closed-door talks continued for weeks after those side-deals were signed. And then as recently as last week, Karzai said that he wanted the agreement to include a dollar figure for funding for the Afghan security forces – a demand that would be hard for the Americans to sign off on given the need for congressional approval for funding. U.S. officials have said previously that they expected the document to address economic and development support for Afghanistan more generally.

The final document is likely to be short on specifics. U.S. officials involved in the negotiations have said previously that the strategic partnership will provide a framework for future relations, but that details of how U.S. forces operate in the country will come in a later agreement.

The initialing ceremony means that the text of the document is now locked in. But the countries will have to go through their own internal review processes, Sundwall said.

“For the United States, that will mean interagency review, consultation with Congress as appropriate and final review by the president,” Sundwall said.

In Afghanistan, the agreement will have to be approved by parliament. The Afghan foreign minister briefed Afghan lawmakers about the document April 23

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines May 6, 2015

News: President nominates Gen. Joseph F. Dunford as Joint Chiefs chairman - President Obama nominated Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford May 5 as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling the commander of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan “a proven leader.”   Business: U.S. Air Force says may revisit rocket plan if firms do...
 
 

News Briefs May 6, 2015

NATO to briefly move command headquarters A top NATO commander says the alliance will briefly move an allied joint force command headquarters to Romania as NATO continues to hone its ability to react to Russia’s moves in Ukraine and other security challenges. U.S Navy Adm. Mark E. Ferguson III, commander of the Allied Joint Force...
 
 
Boeing photograph

Australia accepts new Boeing CH-47F Chinook aircraft

Boeing photograph Boeing has delivered the first two of seven CH-47F Chinooks to the Australian Army at a ceremony in Queensland. The remaining aircraft will be delivered throughout 2015. At a May 5 ceremony at Royal Australian...
 

 
Northrop Grumman photograph

RQ-4 Global Hawk achieves milestone C

Northrop Grumman photograph A U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk on a runway in Palmdale, Calif. The U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk high altitude, long endurance autonomous unmanned aircraft system successfully completed Mileston...
 
 
Army photograph by Maj. Daniel Markert

‘Futurist’ predicts Far East challenges for expeditionary Army

Army photograph by Maj. Daniel Markert Soldiers will face anti-satellite operations and electronic warfare in the future, predicted Dr. Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr., president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments,...
 
 

Boeing upgrading Australian F/A-18 trainers to aid maintenance effectiveness

Boeing will update two maintenance trainers for the Royal Australian Air Force so they better support the RAAFís F/A-18F and EA-18G aircraft. Australia is the only nation other than the United States flying F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters and EA-18G Growler airborne electronic attack aircraft. While it operates the two-seat F variant of the Super Hornet,...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>