Afghan-US security pact will only be signed after elections

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Thursday that a possible security deal with the US would only be signed after presidential elections next year to assure Washington's cooperation in the war-torn nation's polls.

About 2,500 Afghan elders and chieftains have gathered in Kabul to debate, approve or reject the bilateral security agreement (BSA) with Washington, which will govern the future US military role in Afghanistan.

Karzai told delegates that if they approved the BSA and it was passed by parliament, it would only be signed "when our elections are conducted, correctly and with dignity".

"They (the US) should cooperate with us in this," Karzai said.

Afghanistan goes to the polls on April 5 to elect a successor to Karzai, who must step down after serving two terms, and a credible election is seen as important to the country's future stability.

Karzai has in the past accused the US of meddling in the 2009 election, which was marred by widespread fraud.

He said Afghanistan was not able to conduct the forthcoming elections without US cooperation.

In a rare public acknowledgement, Karzai said he no longer trusted the Americans and "nor do they trust me".

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