After a long delay, Afghanistan has agreed to allow 12,000 foreign troops to remain in the country after the end of the year.
Officials from Kabul and Washington signed the security agreement on Tuesday, (September 30), upholding a campaign promise made by new President Ashraf Ghani.
Ghani was keen to allay any fears neighbouring countries may have about the pact after the Taliban denounced what they call a “sinister plot”.
“None of Afghanistan’s neighbours will find themselves in danger as a result of the accord. The agreement is made solely for the security and prosperity of Afghanistan,” he said.
The combat mission of Afghanistan’s US-led NATO force is due to end in December 2014. Under the new pact, 12,000 foreign military personnel are expected to stay after this date, 9,800 of which will be US troops.
Each side has the right to withdraw from the agreement within two years, according to Ghani, who also stressed the pact would not compromise Afghanistan’s sovereignty.
US Ambassador James Cunningham said the agreement showed the United States’ continued commitment to the country, while President Barack Obama hailed it as an “historic day”.