Afghanistan to sign U.S. troop deal
Kabul, Afghanistan — A senior adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama said Monday that Afghanistan will sign a deal Tuesday to allow American soldiers to remain in the country past the end of the year.
John Podesta, speaking to a news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, said he didn’t know if newly inaugurated President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai would be the official signing the deal for Afghanistan.
Podesta said he would sign it on behalf of the U.S.
The deal will allow about 10,000 American troops to stay in the country after the international combat mission ends on Dec. 31.
The announcement comes after Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai was sworn in Monday as Afghanistan’s new president, replacing Hamid Karzai in the country’s first democratic transfer of power after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban.
Moments after Ghani Ahmadzai took the oath, he swore in his election challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, as chief executive, fulfilling a political pledge he had taken to share power and defuse election tensions that had threatened to spark violence between the country’s north and south.
In his first speech, Ghani Ahmadzai called on the Taliban and other militants to join the country’s political process and lay down their weapons. However, extremist violence Monday killed at least 12 civilians and police officers as foreign forces prepare to withdraw from the country at the end of the year.
“We are tired of war,” Ghani Ahmadzai said in a televised address. “Our message is peace, (but) this doesn’t mean we are weak.”
U.S. officials previously had said they expected Ghani Ahmadzai or an official in his government to sign the security agreement with the U.S. shortly after his inauguration. Both Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah said during their campaigns they would sign the deal.
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