US, Afghan officials meet to hammer out security pact details

Senior U.S. officials met with Afghan leaders Saturday to discuss the details of the American drawdown, the State Department said.

Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rasoul discussed the terms of an agreement that outlines the U.S.'s role in Afghanistan as it prepares to remove combat troops from the country, the Associated Press reported.

The agreement spells out the U.S. military commitment to the country. President Obama has said he plans to withdraw American combat troops by next year, although the U.S. will provide funding for Afghan security forces.

A separate agreement calls for a residual force of up to 10,000 U.S. troops after combat troops are gone, and the details of that pact are a potential "sticking point" in talks between U.S. and Afghan officials, the AP said.

The agreement, signed last year, also requires fair elections in Afghanistan's next presidential election, following allegations of rampant corruption in Afghan President Hamid Karzai's 2009 election.

Karzai's his successor could nullify the Strategic Partnership Agreement that officials discussed Saturday.

Afghan analyst Abbas Nuyan told the wire service that progress implementing the agreement has been slow since President Obama signed it last year.

"The most important factors ... are security in the country, tensions between Afghanistan and its neighbors, upcoming elections and the fight against corruption, which is a serious issue not just for us but for the international community," Nuyan said.

— This post was updated at 12:11 p.m.