Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he won’t agree to a security accord with the U.S. unless a peace process is begun in his country.
A bilateral security agreement, or BSA, which would enable some U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014, “can be signed if the U.S honestly starts a peace process,” Karzai said in the Afghan capital, Kabul.
The U.S. and allied forces have said they’ll leave the war-torn nation by the end of 2014 if a BSA isn’t completed. A meeting of tribal elders in November backed such an agreement and urged Karzai to sign it before the end of 2013. The president instead called on the U.S. to start a peace process with the Taliban and ensure transparent elections this year.
“If the U.S. is not willing to accept our conditions, then they can leave us any time they want and Afghans will continue their lives without foreigners,” Karzai told reporters in Kabul.
The U.S. may not be able to fulfill the conditions set by Karzai, whose demands could “motivate the Taliban to lay down their arms,” Ahmad Saeedi, a Kabul-based political and security analyst, said by telephone. Taliban forces have long sought the withdrawal of U.S. troops and rejected a BSA, he said.