independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Karzai reveals security deal hopes

Hamid Karzai talks to Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi (AP)

Afghan president Hamid Karzai has said he hopes the United States will reconsider its stand on a security agreement it wants him to sign in the interests of bringing a lasting peace to his war-torn country.

Mr Karzai said that the Afghan people can not endorse a deal without the US agreeing to end airstrikes and raids on Afghan homes and help broker a peace process with the Taliban.

Mr Karzai told reporters in the Indian capital of New Delhi that the Afghan people understand the consequences of defying the US and that it could cost them billions of dollars.

The United States is pressing Mr Karzai to sign the deal, which would permit a small force of American military trainers to remain in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US forces in 2014.

"The Afghan people are short of resources. Our military and police will suffer. There will be serious consequences," Mr Karzai said of the possibility of the US resorting to the so-called zero troop option of not leaving any forces in Afghanistan after next year's withdrawal.

"The United States need not frame it that way," Mr Karzai said, adding that he was working for a "win-win situation where we want both of us to win".

A national assembly of about 2,500 Afghan elders endorsed the deal last month and recommended that Mr Karzai sign it before the end of the year.

Mr Karzai, however, wants to defer signing the agreement, saying it should be left to his successor after April's presidential election.

Mr Karzai, who is on a three-day visit to India, held talks with Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh to discuss regional security and the future of Afghanistan.

The two countries agreed to deepen their defence and security co-operation, with India promising to help train Afghan troops and assist with equipping Afghan security forces, according to a joint statement issued by the two nations.

No details were given on what kind of equipment New Delhi would supply to Kabul.

Press Association

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