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Afghanistan suspends talks on security deal with US

khan20130714145110230The Afghan Foreign Ministry says strategic talks between Kabul and Washington over the so-called bilateral security agreement remain suspended.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Janan Mosazai made the announcement in his weekly press briefing on Sunday.

Under the strategic agreement, US-led soldiers would be allowed to remain in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 withdrawal deadline.

The remarks come after a senior American diplomat said the United States was hopeful of striking a deal with the Afghan government over the US troops’ presence in the war-ravaged country beyond the deadline.

Addressing the Senate, James Dobbins, the State Department’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan said on Thursday such a deal would allow a large number of American troops to stay in Afghanistan.

He gave an upbeat assessment of the ongoing negotiations between US and Afghan officials, saying the Obama administration is committed to a long-term strategic partnership with the Afghans.

President Hamid Karzai called off the talks last month just a day after the Taliban opened a political office in Qatar’s capital Doha. Karzai has accused Washington of duplicity in its efforts to kick-start peace talks with Taliban militants.

Washington had promised to withdraw all combat forces from Afghanistan by 2014. However, it has been locked in tricky negotiations with Kabul over a strategic partnership beyond 2014.

In May, Afghan Karzai said his government was ready to let the US set up nine bases across Afghanistan after most foreign troops withdraw in 2014.

Many Afghans believe the US is envisaging permanent military bases there.

Afghan political groups have warned that things will get worse should the US set up permanent military bases in Afghanistan.

Afghan political figures have also heaped scorn on the US-led forces for committing unforgivable crimes against Afghan women and children since invading the country in 2001.

Thousands of Afghan civilians, including a large number women and children, have been killed during night raids by foreign forces and CIA-run assassination drone strikes.

The increasing number of casualties in Afghanistan has caused widespread anger against the US and other NATO member states, undermining public support for the Afghan war.

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