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NATO Starts Talks With Afghanistan on Post-2014 Troops

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization began talks with the Afghan government on troop support after 2014, while emphasizing that any accord remains contingent on the signing of a security pact with the U.S.

Negotiations started today on NATO’s role “to train, advise and assist” Afghan forces, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was “pleased” to learn of the discussions while the Pentagon pressed for Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign the bilateral agreement, a statement from the U.S. agency said.

Karzai has so far refused to sign the accord to let U.S. forces train and assist Afghanistan’s army after 2014, when most U.S. troops will come home from a war now in its 13th year.

The U.S. position was bolstered today as Rasmussen said no “Status of Forces Agreement” will be signed by NATO until the U.S. concludes its own deal with the country regarding the continued presence of American troops there.

“The message of the United States and its allies in Europe is clear: the Bilateral Security Agreement should be signed without any more delay,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.

The U.S. invaded Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001, to oust the Taliban-led government that harbored Osama bin Laden, leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist group responsible for the attacks.

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