Hamid Karzai will not sign security agreement: US spy chief

WASHINGTON (TIP): The US intelligence chief said on February 11 he does not expect Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign a security agreement with the United States that would allow American troops to stay after 2014.

Washington has repeatedly appealed to Karzai to sign the bilateral security agreement (BSA) negotiated last year but James Clapper, director of national intelligence, said he had given up hope that the Afghan president would endorse the deal. “Well, obviously, it takes two to sign this,” Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“And it’s my own view, not necessarily company policy, …I don’t believe President Karzai is going to sign it,” he said. His comments were the most explicit yet by a senior US official acknowledging the bleak prospects of Karzai backing the agreement. Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the committee, asked Clapper if it would be better for the US government to wait for the next Afghan president to sign the deal after the country’s April elections.

Clapper said that would be a policy decision and not up to him but he said such a move could “have a salutary effect.” The United States favors leaving about 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after this year to help train Afghan forces and counter al-Qaida militants and its allies.

The delay in signing the security agreement, which would set up a legal framework for foreign troops to stay post-2014, has created uncertainty and undermined confidence among Afghans, Clapper said. “The effect already of the delay has been negative in terms of the impact on the economy, not to mention I think the psychological impact,” he said. Worries about whether NATO-led forces will remain in the country have triggered negative trends in the economy,

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