Road-map agreed for future role as US troops start to leave


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The Independent Online

Afghanistan and the US agreed on a much-delayed strategic partnership deal yesterday that is meant to govern the US role in Afghanistan during and after the reduction of international forces in the country.

US forces have already started pulling out and most combat troops are due to depart by the end of 2014. But the US is set to keep a large presence in Afghanistan long after that, including special forces, trainers and government assistance programmes.

The new agreement is seen as being a key to the US exit strategy in Afghanistan because it is expected to provide a road-map for the remaining US forces and funding.

"The document finalised today provides a strong foundation for the security of Afghanistan, the region and the world and is a document for the development of the region," the Afghan National Security Adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta said.

Regardless of the exact content of the deal, getting to any sort of final agreement is likely to be seen as a success given more than 18 months of negotiations – during which the entire effort appeared in danger of falling apart multiple times. Neither the US nor Afghan officials provided details about what the agreement says.

Afghan and US officials have long said that they hoped to sign the deal before a Nato summit in Chicago next month. But as the talks dragged on and President Hamid Karzai continued to announce new demands for the document, many officials had started to worry that they would miss their goal.