October 12, 2013 - 12:31 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - U.S. officials say some progress has been made in U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on a security deal to allow American troops to remain in the country after the NATO-led military mission ends next year, according to the Associated Press.
The officials said talks were extended Saturday, Oct 12, on a bilateral security agreement that the United States wants by the end of October. They were speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the negotiations.
Kerry's unannounced overnight visit to Kabul comes as talks foundered over issues of Afghan sovereignty despite a year of negotiations.
Talks resumed Saturday as they tried to resolve Karzai's demand for guarantees against future foreign intervention, and U.S. demands that a residual force be able to conduct counterterrorism operations.
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.