With the Chicago NATO summit approaching, the US and Afghanistan have put the finishing touches on a strategic partnership to govern their relations after the 2014 troop withdrawal. The agreement comes despite tensions.
The United States and Afghanistan on Sunday finalized an agreement on a strategic partnership, after months of negotiations that nearly broke down under the pressure of rising tensions between the two nations.
The text, which was initialed by the countries' top negotiators, still has to be signed by US President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Washington has said it hopes to ratify the pact before the NATO summit in Chicago next month.
The US has agreed to provide military and financial support to Kabul for the decade after international forces withdraw in 2014. Despite the planned troop withdrawal, Washington is expected to maintain a large presence in Afghanistan, including special forces, military advisors and governance programs.
"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 US Embassy spokesman Gavin Sundwall. "We believe this agreement supports that goal."
Kabulhad already secured major concessions from Washington, including the authority over controversial night raids by special forces and the control of Bagram prison. The legal status of US forces in Afghanistan, however, remains undetermined and is to be negotiated after the strategic partnership has been signed by the two nations' presidents.
"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," Afghan National Security Advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta said.
A series of lethal incidents nearly brought the strained US-Afghan partnership to a breaking point earlier this year. US forces burned copies of the Koran in February - an incident that Washington claims was an accident - leading to a series of deadly protests by Afghans as well as attacks by Afghan soldiers on their erstwhile international comrades-in-arms.
A massacre of 17 civilians by a US soldier in March ignited outrage in Afghanistan over the legal status of US forces in the country. Despite Afghan calls for the alleged perpetrator to be tried in Afghanistan, the soldier was flown to the US where he will stand trial.
slk/ai (AP, dpa, AFP)