KABUL: Afghan and US officials have finalised the initial draft of a strategic partnership agreement that will govern relations between Kabul and Washington after 2014, a presidential statement said on Sunday.
“The draft agreement on Afghanistan and US long-term partnership was finalised and initialed on Sunday in Kabul by the heads of the two negotiating delegations in Kabul,” a presidential statement said. “The agreement is now ready for signature by both the presidents.”
No details were released of the content of the draft agreement, which will now be reviewed by the US and Afghan presidents, the US Congress and the Afghan parliament.
The 130,000-strong US-led Nato force helping the Afghan government fight a decade-long Taliban insurgency is due to end combat operations and pull out by the end of 2014 and the two countries are in talks about their future relations.
Kabul has already achieved two preconditions for signing the treaty – full control over the US-run Bagram prison and controversial special forces night raids against Taliban insurgents.
But the agreement will not cover the crucial issue of the status of US troops remaining in Afghanistan after the withdrawal. The issue will be discussed after the strategic partnership deal is signed, according to the US embassy.
US ambassador Ryan C Crocker and Afghanistan’s national security adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta agreed on the wording of the draft, titled “Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement between Afghanistan and the United States”.
“The document finalised today provides a strong foundation for the security of Afghanistan, the region and the world and is a document for the development of the region,” Spanta was quoted as saying the statement.
The US ambassador said in the statement that the agreement will cement a long-term strategic partnership between “two equal and sovereign States”.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2012.