• Afghanistan, US solve security pact impasse

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    KABUL: Afghanistan and the United States have solved a key sticking point in a crucial security pact just two days before it was due to be voted on by Afghan tribal and political leaders, an Afghan official said on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).

    Aimal Faizi, President Hamid Karzai’s spokesman, told reporters in Kabul that the deal would allow US troops to enter Afghan homes once North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces withdraw in 2014 but only in “extraordinary circumstances” where there was an urgent risk to life. The compromise appeared to end an impasse which had threatened to derail the agreement.

    Faizi said President Karzai and Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by phone Tuesday during final negotiations for the bilateral security treaty (BSA), which will shape Washington’s future military presence in the war-scarred nation.

    However, officials in Washington said there was still some way to go before reaching a final agreement on the pact.

    “We’re not there yet. There are still some final issues we are working through,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

    She confirmed that Kerry had spoken with Karzai on Tuesday morning, adding, “Obviously, there has been some progress made to resolve outstanding issues.” But she refused to go into any details.

    Even if a final agreement is reached, Afghanistan has insisted that the BSA must be approved by a mass gathering of tribal chieftains and politicians.

    The four-day grand assembly, known as a “loya jirga” in Pashto, is set to begin on Thursday in Kabul.

    AFP

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