nzherald.co.nz
March 15, 2014

In his final address to Afghanistan’s parliament Saturday, President Hamid Karzai told the United States its soldiers can leave at the end of the year because his military, which already protects 93 percent of the country, was ready to take over entirely.

He reiterated his stance that he would not sign a pact with the United States that would provide for a residual force of U.S. troops to remain behind after the final withdrawal, unless peace could first be established.

The Afghan president has come under heavy pressure to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement, with a council of notables that he himself convened recommend that he sign the pact. The force would train and mentor Afghan troops, and some U.S. Special Forces would also be left behind to hunt down al-Qaida.

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