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Afghanistan-USA Sign Long-delayed Security Pact
Oct 03, 2014

The United States and Afghanistan signed a long-delayed security agreement that will allow about 9,800 American troops to remain in the country past this year. The agreement was signed a day after Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai was signed into office. He said, this agreement is only for Afghan security and stability. The agreement ensures a long term presence of U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan and sets the two countries on a more stable relationship. Both Ashraf Ghani and his rival, Abdullah Abdullah had said they would sign the agreement if elected.

U.S. and Afghan officials had agreed on terms of the accord more than a year ago, but former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai had refused to sign. He had an often rocky relationship with Washington. He had complained about U.S. airstrikes that have killed Afghan civilians and U.S. overtures to the Taliban, the Islamists who had ruled Afghanistan until ousted by American forces in 2001. The Taliban has been waging a civil war ever since.

The residual U.S. force will be responsible for advising and supporting Afghan security forces and conducting counter-terrorism missions against al-Qaeda and its affiliates. The American combat mission in Afghanistan ends this year. NATO countries are expected to contribute troops to the residual force as well, bringing the total to about 12,000.

Afghan security forces are already leading operations throughout the country as U.S. forces have largely withdrawn from direct combat. Under the plan the number of U.S. forces would be reduced by more than half in 2015 and then removed entirely by 2017. There are about 24,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of about 100,000 in 2010 and 2011. 

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