In response to U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel giving Afghan President Hamid Karzai “until February” to sign a defence agreement, Karzai shot back today that “there is no deadline,” reports Stephanie Gaskell of Defence One.
Karzai’s comments come after a year filled with increasingly hot rhetoric toward the U.S., and countless delays and stipulations about the agreement outlining the legality of America’s continued presence in Afghanistan.
The Obama administration originally wanted the deal signed by the end of 2013, but Hagel “softened” after this weekend’s visit with the country’s defence minister, reports Gaskell.
The deal was originally supposed to be signed weeks ago, once the loyal jirga — an assembly of some 2,500 Afghan elders — reviewed and passed it, but Karzai balked then too.
The Economist recently suggested that the only way to deal with Karzai’s “kleptocratic” government was to wait until his successor takes office, something Karzai himself has suggested.
On the other hand, military leaders have said that planning would have to start now if the judgement came to launch the so-called zero option — no American troops in Afghanistan past 2014.
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