US warns Karzai 'sign or we leave Afghanistan'

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US warns Karzai 'sign or we leave Afghanistan'

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The White House says Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai has proposed “new conditions…and indicated he is not ready to sign the bilateral security deal promptly:”

The declaration follows his meeting with US National Security Advisor Susan Rice in Kabul. Karzai told Rice raids on Afghan homes would have to cease and the US would have to “demonstrate its commitment to peace” before he would sign.

Rice was quoted as saying that no prompt signature meant the US would start planning for a total pullout in 2014, and leave Afghanistan much as it left Iraq, with no US or NATO military presence.

Last weekend’s Loya Jurga or national Afghan gathering endorsed a continued US/NATO engagement, and urged Karzai to sign quickly. However the Afghan president says he wants the April presidential elections out of the way first.

America currently has 47,000 troops in the country, and wants to leave a force of around 8,000 behind after 2014, but insists it needs a signature before the end of this year to plan the pullout.