Obama hails security deal with Afghanistan

OBAMAUS President Barack Obama hailed it as “a historic day” as the US and Afghanistan signed a bilateral security agreement that allows the residual American troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

“Today we mark a historic day in the US-Afghan partnership that will help advance our shared interests and the long-term security of Afghanistan,” Xinhua quoted a statement issued by Obama as saying.

Afghan Presidential Advisor on National Security Mohammad Hanif Atmar and US Ambassador to Afghanistan James B. Cunningham signed the agreement on behalf of their respective governments.

Under the deal signed in Afghan capital Kabul, the US would keep around 10,000 troops in Afghanistan to train and advise the Afghan security forces and carry out counter-terrorism missions after the pullback of most American and NATO combat troops by the end of this year.

A status of forces agreement signed between NATO and Afghanistan offers legal protections to the remaining American and NATO troops.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who stepped down Monday as new President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai was sworn in, had refused to sign the deals despite the repeated US threat of a full withdrawal from the war-torn country.

“These agreements will enable American and coalition troops to continue to help strengthen Afghan forces, counter terrorist threats, and advance regional security,” US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement.

Speaking after inking the agreement, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai described it as a milestone in enhancing bilateral relations between Kabul and Washington.

“The security agreement with US poses no threats to the neighbouring countries,” Ahmadzai said.

“No nuclear or chemical weapons will be deployed in the Afghanistan soil in the wake of the agreement,” Ahmadzai added.

In his short speech after signing the agreement, Ambassador Cunningham stated that inking the agreement paves the way for further enhancing relations and cooperation between Afghanistan and the US.