UNITED NATIONS — The Afghan ambassador to the United Nations said Tuesday he’s certain a security agreement for a training and counterterrorism mission there after 2014 will be signed “in a timely manner.”
The United States wants the Bilateral Security Agreement to be signed by the end of this year. The NATO mandate expires next year, and foreign forces must depart Afghanistan.
The deputy U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Rosemary DiCarlo, told the Security Council that “promptly” signing would be a signal to Afghans that “their concerns about the future will be addressed.”
Afghanistan Ambassador Zahir Tanin did not promise anything Tuesday.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has balked at signing, though a national assembly of 2,500 delegates has endorsed the deal.
Karzai has said he will be deferring the issue to his successor and has added new conditions, such as restarting peace talks with the Taliban. He is not a candidate in the presidential elections scheduled for April.
The deputy UK ambassador, Peter Wilson, said he wants the agreement signed “without further delay.”
That echoes British Prime Minister David Cameron’s comments during a visit to Afghanistan this week.
Much is at stake if the deal falls apart. Afghanistan could lose up to $15 billion a year in aid, effectively collapsing its fragile economy and making it unable to pay its 350,000-strong army and police.
A post-2014 mission could involve around 8,000 American and 6,000 allied troops.