KABUL - A top US military official on Monday called for signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between Kabul and Washington by October.
Negotiations on the pact, providing for an American military presence in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 pullout of foreign combat troops, were suspended last month.
President Hamid Karzai announced a halt to discussions on the agreement after the opening of the Taliban's political office in Doha and US plans for direct talks with the insurgents,
But the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman told reporters in Kabul the BSA negotiations would resume and the pact would be signed sooner rather than later.
Hours after talks with President Karzai, Gen. Martin Dempsey downplayed talk of the zero option -- meaning no US troops would stay in Afghanistan after 2014.
"No one has asked me to work out a zero option. I don't recommend it, but there could be a zero outcome because we can only stay here if we are invited to do so," the general remarked.
Dempsey affirmed his so personal commitment to doing whatever he could to set the conditions for the security agreement. Rapid conclusion would pave the ground for a long-term US presence in Afghanistan, he hoped.
"So October 2013 is about a year prior to that, and militarily, my advice would be that we achieve as much clarity and certainty as possible about a year out from where we would like to be in that configuration..." he said
Answering a query, Dempsey admitted a rise in casualties among Afghan forces and said police were bearing the brunt. However, he said US troops were working on a plan to cut Afghan casualties. (Pajhwok)