Printed on: November 26, 2013

Karzai, U.S. at odds over deal, jeopardizing troop presence


KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Afghanistan's president and the U.S. delivered blunt messages to each other Monday that gave no indication of a resolution of their disagreements over a pact that governs the future of the American troop presence in the country.

Hamid Karzai said he won't back down from his refusal to sign during the rest of his term in office, with National Security Adviser Susan Rice responding that this would mean the U.S. would then start planning to pull out all its forces after 2014.

Their meeting in Kabul came the day after Karzai's surprise decision to ignore Sunday's recommendation by an Afghan assembly of dignitaries to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement, a refusal that cast doubt on whether American and allied troops would remain in Afghanistan to train Afghan forces after most foreign troops withdraw next year.

According to Karzai's office, he told Rice during Monday's meeting that he wouldn't back down from that decision, deferring it to whoever succeeds him as president in April elections.

The White House said Rice responded by telling Karzai that the United States will plan to pull all troops out of his country after 2014 if he doesn't promptly sign.