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White House Says Security Deal Needed By Year's End

Afghan delegates to the Loya Jirga have voiced concern about parts of the proposed Bilateral Security Agreement.
The White House said it is "imperative" that Afghan authorities conclude a Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States before the end of the year.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told a news conference on November 22: "The bottom line is that we need to conclude the agreement with signatures between our two governments as soon as possible and certainly by the end of the year."

He said that failure to conclude the agreement by that point would make it impossible for the United States and its allies to plan for a presence [in Afghanistan] post 2014.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai told a session of the Loya Jirga, or Grand Council, on November 21 that the Bilateral Security Agreement might have to wait to be signed until after Afghanistan's presidential elections in April 2014.

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But Carney said the U.S. had made an honest offer and emphasized that Washington would not be revising the deal. He said, "It is our final offer."

The Bilateral Security Agreement could clear the way for the United States to keep thousands of troops in Afghanistan after NATO-led forces withdraw at the end of 2014.

U.S. officials responded to Karzai's comments, saying the deal must be finalized before the start of 2014. Karzai's spokesman, Aimal Faizi, said on November 22 that Afghanistan does not recognize U.S. "deadlines."

Afghan authorities and delegates to the Loya Jirga have voiced concern about parts of the agreement.

Most recently, the question of U.S. forces entering the homes of Afghan citizens has held up the deal, but there are reportedly other unresolved issues in the agreement the Loya Jirga is still considering.

With reporting by VOA, AFP, and Reuters
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