BRUSSELS (TIP): Nato’s chief says any Afghan government representative, not only President Hamid Karzai, could sign a security pact with the United States so that thousands of coalition troops could stay in Afghanistan after 2014. Karzai has balked at signing the bilateral security agreement with the United States that would allow Nato to follow suit.

His refusal has loomed large at a two-day meeting of alliance foreign ministers ending today. Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters after a meeting with Afghan envoys that “everyone who is authorized to represent respective governments would be able to sign such an agreement.” US Secretary of State John Kerry suggested yesterday that Karzai’s “minister of defense can sign it, the government can sign it. Somebody can accept responsibility for this.”