International

Nov 21, 2013 6:46 AM by Associated Press

Afghan president will defer signing US deal

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Afghanistan's president says he backs the signing of a security deal with the United States but tells a gathering of elders that if they and parliament approve the agreement it should be signed after next spring's elections.

Hamid Karzai's abrupt decision Thursday to defer signing the agreement until after the April 5 elections came even as he said he supported the Bilateral Security Agreement in a speech to the 2,500-member national consultative council known as the Loya Jirga.

Such a development could be a potential deal breaker as the United States has said it wants an agreement as soon as possible to allow planners in the United States to prepare for a military presence after 2014, when the majority of foreign combat forces will have left Afghanistan.

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