Afghanistan will sign U.S. security pact, says Germany
BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's foreign minister said on Thursday that he had received assurances from Afghan President Hamid Karzai that his country would sign a security deal with the United States that allows Western troops to remain in the country.
The United States has warned it could withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan unless the pact is signed soon.
Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke to Karzai during a weekend trip to Afghanistan.
"He said to me very clearly: the deal has been negotiated, it would not be amended," Steinmeier told the Bundestag lower house of parliament, saying, however, that Karzai had given no indication of the timing.
The Afghan president had stressed that he could only sign the agreement once the reconciliation process in Afghanistan, which will include radical forces such as the Taliban, had got underway, said Steinmeier.
"I was pleased that Karzai said very clearly that Afghanistan would in any case sign," Steinmeier said.
The United States and other nations want to keep thousands of troops in Afghanistan for counter terrorism and training of Afghan personnel after U.S. forces formally withdraw at the end of this year.
The security deal is a condition for those soldiers to remain active in Afghanistan. Germany has some 3,200 soldiers deployed there as part of the NATO-led mission.
The U.S. director of national intelligence said earlier this week he did not believe Karzai would sign the deal. Karzai has previously suggested any security deal could wait until after April elections in Afghanistan.
(Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Noah Barkin)
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