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US, Afghanistan edge closer to a post-2014 security deal

The Bilateral Security Agreement would keep some US troops in Afghanistan after 2014.

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US Secretary of State, John Kerry is accompanied by Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Acting Chief of Protocol, Hamid Siddiq to a second meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on October 12, 2013. (Jacquelyn Martin/AFP/Getty Images)

United States Secretary of State John Kerry met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai for a second day of talks on Saturday over a deal that would keep US troops in Afghanistan after 2014.

The so-called Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) would see some US troops stay in Afghanistan after the redeployment of 87,000 combat troops by December 2014.

The BSA means that between 5,000 and 10,000 troops remain in the country.

The deal has raised tensions between the two countries, with President Barack Obama threatening in June to bring home all American forces if there was no agreement by Oct. 31.

“October 31st is our goal,” a senior administration official said to the Washington Post.

“The president has been clear. There can be no reason” for failure “other than the fact that the Afghans don’t want what we’re offering.”

Karzai has also threatened to walk away from a deal if his conditions were not met.

He has said that he was in no rush for a deal and would be seeking approval from a traditional grand assembly of tribal leaders, which convenes in about one month, the Agence France-Presse reported.

The Afghan government is looking to keep some foreign troops in the country to train the national military and hunt down remaining Al Qaeda forces.

However, the sticking point remains the scale of US involvement in fighting the Taliban and the degree of unilateral action American forces could take.

The talks come at the heels of an announcement by US forces that they had captured Pakistani Taliban leader Latif Mehsud in a military operation.

The Pentagon said he was being held in Afghanistan.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/afghanistan/131012/us-afghanistan-edge-closer-post-2014-security-