Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–November 25, 2013.
At the end of her three-day trip to Afghanistan to visit American troops and civilians and to assess conditions in the country, Ambassador Rice met with President Karzai, at his invitation, for a working dinner at the Palace.
Ambassador Rice conveyed to President Karzai that the United States welcomes the Loya Jirga’s overwhelming endorsement of the U.S.-Afghanistan Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) and is prepared to sign the agreement in the coming days. Ambassador Rice underscored the opportunity provided by the BSA to sustain the partnership between the United States and Afghanistan to support Afghans in achieving lasting peace, security and development. In response, President Karzai outlined new conditions for signing the agreement and indicated he is not prepared to sign the BSA promptly.
Ambassador Rice stressed that we have concluded negotiations and that deferring the signature of the agreement until after next year’s elections is not viable, as it would not provide the United States and NATO allies the clarity necessary to plan for a potential post-2014 military presence. Nor would it provide Afghans with the certainty they deserve regarding their future, in the critical months preceding elections. Moreover, the lack of a signed BSA would jeopardize NATO and other nations’ pledges of assistance made at the Chicago and Tokyo conferences in 2012. Ambassador Rice reiterated that, without a prompt signature, the U.S. would have no choice but to initiate planning for a post-2014 future in which there would be no U.S. or NATO troop presence in Afghanistan. The United States will continue to work with Afghanistan to support a smooth security transition and to help ensure free and fair elections.
Ambassador Rice conveyed the overwhelming and moving support she found among all the Afghans with whom she met for an enduring U.S.-Afghan partnership and for the prompt signing of the BSA. In closing, Rice highlighted the American people’s friendship and support for the people of Afghanistan as embodied in the extraordinary sacrifices of our service-men and women and the unprecedented investment Americans have made in Afghanistan.