Afghanistan, US sign long-delayed security agreement

Afghanistan, US sign long-delayed security agreement
# 30 September 2014 18:28 (UTC +04:00)
The controversial Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) was sealed by Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar and US Ambassador to Kabul James Cunningham on Tuesday according to which about 10,000 American troops will stay in Afghanistan next year.
"We have signed an agreement which is for the good of our people, the stability of the region and the world," newly-elected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai said.
Noting that the pact would allow continued US funding for the 350,000-strong Afghan forces, he added, "Threats exist to our joint interests, and this gives us a common goal."
US President Barack Obama also welcomed the pact and said it was 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, and that contributes to our shared goal of defeating al-Qaeda and its extremist affiliates," Obama added.
The signing of the security deal comes as former Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, who had been in power since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, had refused to sign the BSA.
Under the agreement, soldiers from Germany, Italy, and other NATO member states will join the 9,800 remaining US soldiers, raising the total number to about 12,500.
The agreement grants immunity to US-led troops operating in the country. It also allows the US-led forces to carry out deadly night-time raids on Afghan homes, which has triggered widespread protests in Afghanistan.
The United States and its allies attacked Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity remains in the country, despite the presence of tens of thousands of foreign troops.