US Troops May Stay in Afghanistan Till 2024
KABUL - America and Afghanistan are reportedly to sign an agreement allowing thousands of America troops to remain in the country till 2024.
Afghanistan's neighbors like Iran and Pakistan have expressed disappointment, either publicly or privately, over the prospect of such a deal, The Telegraph reports.
A senior member of Hamid Karzai's Peace Council has said it risks being rejected by the Taliban and derailing any attempt to coax them to the negotiating table.
However, Afghans are reportedly keen to have longer ties with Washington, as far as US troops are concerned, and many analysts also believe the American military would like to retain a presence close to Pakistan, Iran and China.
Reports suggest that Presidents Barack Obama and Hamid Karzai agreed last week to escalate the negotiations, and assured that their national security advisers will meet in Washington in September.
Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Karzai's top security adviser, said that "remarkable progress" had been made, while US officials said they would be disappointed if a deal could not be reached by December and that the majority of small print had been agreed.
Dr Spanta said a longer-term presence was crucial not only to build Afghan forces, but also to fight terrorism.
"If the Americans provide us weapons and equipment, they need facilities to bring that equipment," he said. "If they train our police and soldiers, then those trainers will not be 10 or 20, they will be thousands," he said.
"We know we will be confronted with international terrorists. 2014, is not the end of international terrorist networks and we have a common commitment to fight them. For this purpose also, the US needs facilities," Dr Spanta added. (ANI)