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Afghan Parliament Approves U.S.-Afghan Security Pact

  • RFE/RL

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (right) and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama exchange documents after signing a Strategic Partnership Agreement at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on May 2.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (right) and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama exchange documents after signing a Strategic Partnership Agreement at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on May 2.

Afghanistan's parliament has approved a strategic partnership agreement between Kabul and Washington, clearing the way for a U.S. presence in the country after most foreign combat troops leave in 2014.

Afghan lawmakers said the approval came in a vote on May 26.

It was not immediately clear how many lawmakers were present in the 249-seat lower house for the vote held by a show of hands. Legislators said only a handful of lawmakers voted against the pact.

The deal will now go to the Afghan Senate which is expected to approve it next week.

The strategic partnership agreement was signed by U.S. President Barack Obama and Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai in Kabul on May 2.

It sets out a long-term U.S. role in Afghanistan, including the provision of aid and advisers.

No Plans For Military Bases

The pact, reached after months of contentious negotiations, does not commit the United States to specific troop levels.

But it does allow Washington to potentially keep a number of troops after the planned 2014 withdrawal to train Afghan soldiers and pursue al-Qaeda militants.

It also states that the U.S. does not seek permanent military bases in Afghanistan.

The pact also does not commit the United States to any specific level of spending, but it does pledge financial support for Kabul for a decade after the last of the 87,000 U.S. soldiers pull out of the country.

Most of the contentious parts of the agreement, which could have seen parliament reject the deal, had earlier been removed and dealt with separately, including giving Afghans control of controversial night raids on homes and prisons used to detain insurgents.

Speaking after the vote on May 26, the head of the Afghan Parliamenary Defense Committee, Shukria Barikzai, said the pact would reinforce Afghanistan's sovereignty.

"I hope that the approval of the document will rescue Afghanistan from the yoke of its neighbors," he said. "And that with the help of the international community, Afghanistan can find a decent position among other nations as a sovereign and independent state and as a country that has stood on its own feet."

The agreement with the United States has strained relations with Iran, with some Afghan lawmakers accusing Tehran of "interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan

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