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US, Afghanistan sign security agreement

 

The United States and Afghanistan signed a security agreement on Tuesday that would allow some U.S. troops to remain in the country to help train and advise the Afghanistan military. 

The 10-year deal, according to reports, would allow 9,800 troops to remain in the country beyond the end of the year and allow some bases to remain open. It would also bar U.S. military from being prosecuted under Afghanistan law. A separate agreement would allow a small number of NATO forces to remain. 

"The BSA is the clearest possible expression of a U.S. commitment to a security partnership with Afghanistan," the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan said in a statement. "It provides a legal framework that allows the United States to continue to train, advise and assist the ANSF and further develop its capabilities." 

The signing came the day after new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was sworn in after a months-long election battle with his opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, who took a post as chief executive under a power-sharing agreement. 

Both Afghan presidential candidates had vowed to sign the status of forces agreement during the campaign, something the previous president, Hamid Karzai, had resisted. 

Throughout the year, the United States has sought the agreement with Afghanistan to allow a small number of U.S. forces to remain in the country to help train Afghan forces and for other counterterrorism efforts. 

But after a number of failed attempts to get an agreement with Karzai, the former Afghan president said a deal would likely have to wait for his successor. 

President Obama announced he was looking for a "responsible end" to the war in Afghanistan during his visit to the country in May. At the time, he outlined the administration's plan to draw down all but 9,800 of the 32,000 troops that remained in the country by the end of the year. That number will fall even lower by 2016. 

A number of Republicans have blamed the current unrest in Iraq and the rise of Islamic militants there on the failure of the United States and the Iraqi government to come to a status of forces agreement after U.S. combat missions ended there.