There will be no American troops in Afghanistan by the end of 2014 if Afghan President Hamid Karzai refuses to sign a bilateral security arrangement that sets ground rules for any continued U.S. presence, The Washington Post reported
The deal, negotiated pver the course of a year, has already been endorsed by his own handpicked assembly.
These include Washington's help kick-starting talks between Karzai and Taliban militants; the release of 17 Taliban prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay as a goodwill gesture to the Taliban; and restricting U.S. counter-insurgency efforts, including a commitment not to enter any "Afghan home," the Post reported.
The U.S. military will pull out of the country unless there is a security agreement. Karzai's refusal also could jeopardize pledges of $8 billion in international military and economic support to the country, the Post reported.
Karzai came to power in 2001 as the head of an interim power-sharing government. He has subsequently been elected and re-elected. His relationships with both the Bush and Obama administrations have often been turbulent.
The Afghan leader believes the Obama White House opposes his re-election, even though Rice said the United States would not interfere in the presidential race, according to the Post.
American troops entered the country in the aftermath of the al-Qaida terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
At the time, al-Qaida leaders were based in Afghanistan. Since then, the war has left more than 2,000 U.S. service personnel killed and more than 19,000 wounded.
The conflict has cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars.
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