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Karzai Says No Rush For Security Deal With U.S.

  • RFE/RL

Afghan President Hamid Karzai says his country is in no rush to conclude a security agreement with the United States.

Karzai said on September 17 that Washington "wanted to sign the security pact in March or April of this year. Now they are trying to sign it in October."

"We are trying to do it properly but they are trying to do it in a rush," he added. "The difference is this -- they are rushing and we are not in a rush at all."

The Afghan leader asked Washington to meet "four major conditions" before concluding a bilateral security agreement with Kabul, which will determine the status of U.S. forces after NATO's withdrawal next year.

Karzai said the conditions included ensuring security in Afghanistan, sustaining the Afghan security forces, strengthening the country's economy, and respecting its national integrity.

"If [the Americans] do not give us the guarantees we have asked for until October and we do not reach an agreement, they can wait for the next [Afghan] government," Karzai said.

"It is not necessary for me to sign [the security agreement]. The next president will come, there will be an election and they will sign it with them."

The two countries have been negotiating a security pact since 2012. Washington reportedly wants to conclude a deal soon to give Western military planners enough time to make arrangements for keeping some troops in Afghanistan after the scheduled withdrawal of international troops by the end of 2014.

Karzai is due to step down next spring after 13 years in office.

'Endemic' Violence Against Women

Meanwhile, the UN human rights chief, Navi Pillay, has expressed concern that the human rights situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating.

During a two-day visit to Afghanistan, Pillay said on September 17 that Afghan civil-society activists told her there was a risk that progress made over the past 12 years may be reversed.

Pillay said she was presented with evidence of a sharp reversal in human rights, especially for women.

"Violence against women remains endemic and I have urged the relevant authorities to do their utmost to speed up and improve the implementation of this important law [on elimination violence against women]," Pillay said.

The threat to Afghan women was highlighted on September 16 when the senior policewoman in southern Afghanistan died after being shot by gunmen.

Pillay said human rights should not be "sacrificed to political expediency" as Afghanistan takes over security amid a gradual withdrawal of NATO-led international forces.

Apart from the security transition, Afghanistan will be undergoing major political transition, with a presidential election scheduled for 2014.

With reporting by dpa, AFP, AP, Reuters, and BBC Pashto
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