October 11, 2013 - 16:17 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Afghanistan on Friday, Oct 11, to advance negotiations with President Hamid Karzai on a bilateral security pact, weeks before an Oct 31 deadline for an agreement, according to Reuters.
The deal will determine the presence of U.S. forces in Afghanistan after 2014.
U.S. officials, speaking en route to Kabul, emphasized that Kerry's visit was not about trying to close a deal on a Bilateral Security Agreement. Instead he would seek to build momentum for negotiators to reach a deal after 11 months of talks, they said.
"This is not about Secretary Kerry coming in to close a deal," a senior State Department official told reporters. "This is really about us building momentum for the negotiators and helping establish conditions for success of the negotiations going forward."
Earlier this month, Karzai’s spokesman said that the U.S. bid to run unilateral counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan after 2014 is threatening to derail the security pact between the two countries.
Most foreign combat troops are due to leave by the end of 2014, and the United States has been putting pressure on Afghanistan to finalize a bilateral security agreement by the end of this month.
The pact will set out the terms of a U.S. presence after 2014 and will be followed by similar deals with other countries such as Germany and Italy.
But two issues have emerged as potential "deal breakers", Aimal Faizi said.
One is a U.S. desire to run independent counter-terrorism missions in Afghanistan after 2014, Faizi said. The other was a U.S. refusal to agree to a wide-reaching promise to protect Afghanistan from foreign aggression.
Karzai has long opposed operations in Afghanistan by U.S. special operations forces and the CIA, particularly when they run the risk of causing civilian casualties.