Sunday, August 21, 2011

U.S. 'close' to signing deal to keep troops in Afghanistan until at least 2024 - 20th Aug 2011

U.S. authorities are close to signing a deal to keep thousands of troops in Afghanistan until at least 2024.

The agreement goes far beyond maintaining a small military training force, allowing for units of special forces and air power to remain in the country, according to The Daily Telegraph.

If the agreement goes ahead it is sure to anger Afghanistan's neighbours, including Iran and America's on-off ally Pakistan.

The deal also risks further alienating the Taliban, who are currently being coaxed to the negotiating table in a bid to end the bloody conflict.

U.S. troops are already planning to hand over security to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Rangin Dadfar Spanta - Hamid Karzai’s top security adviser said, 'remarkable progress' had been made towards signing the pact.

According to the paper both sets of officials said they hoped to sign the pact before the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan in December.

Reports added both Barack Obama and Hamid Karzai had ramped up negotiations, with a meeting between security advisers set for Washington in September.

The deal, according to analysts, has the added advantage of allowing the U.S. to keep a large military presence near to Pakistan, Iran and China. Read More