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New Afghan government signs US troops deal

4 Oct BBC

The new Afghan government has signed a security deal with American officials that will allow US troops to remain in the country beyond this year.

The agreement was signed by Afghanistan's newly appointed national security adviser, Hanif Atmar. Previous President Hamid Karzai had refused to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the US, straining ties and raising security fears.Most Nato forces are to withdraw this year, leaving 9,800 US troops behind.The total number of troops in a new Nato-led mission including US soldiers to train and assist Afghanistan's security forces will be about 12,000 next year.There will also be a separate US-led force dealing with the remnants of al-Qaeda.

US ambassador to Kabul Jim Cunningham signed the long-delayed agreement on behalf of the government in Washington.Ashraf Ghani, newly elected Afghan President, welcomed the deal. He said: “Today Afghanistan has regained its sovereignty as a power.”Meanwhile US President Barack Obama said the BSA marked a “historic day” in US-Afghan relations.

“We look forward to working with this new government to cement an enduring partnership that strengthens Afghan sovereignty, stability, unity, and prosperity,” he added.The BSA allows for some foreign special forces to stay in the country to conduct “counter-terror operations” and others to support and train Afghan forces.Under a separate Nato agreement also signed on Tuesday, several nations, led by Germany, Turkey and Italy, will contribute to a further force of about 3,000 troops.

 

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