The Afghan government signed an agreement Tuesday allowing several thousand American troops to remain in the country beyond the end of the year, ending a long tussle over the U.S. military presence that had soured relations between Kabul and Washington.
Finalizing the bilateral strategic agreement, long sought by the Obama administration, was one of the first acts of the new administration of President Ashraf Ghani, who took office Monday. Ghani’s national security advisor, Mohammad Hanif Atmar, led a delegation of Afghan officials who signed the pact at the presidential palace.
The agreement allows for a continued U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan after nearly 13 years of war and comes as the mandate of U.S.-led NATO coalition forces expires at the end of the year. The Obama administration has said up to 10,000 soldiers would remain behind to continue training, advising and equipping Afghan soldiers and police, and to carry out counter-terrorism operations.
The signing of the agreement, known as the BSA, fulfills a major campaign promise by Ghani, who has said he hopes it will repair relations with the U.S.