Officials from Afghanistan and the U.S. sign a long-delayed security agreement to allow American troops to stay in the country past 2014. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Officials from Afghanistan and the United States on Tuesday (September 30) signed a long-delayed security agreement to allow American troops to stay in the country after the end of the year, filling a campaign promise by new President Ashraf Ghani. National security adviser Hanif Atmar and U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham signed the bilateral security agreement in a televised ceremony at the presidential palace, one day after Ghani was inaugurated. "As an independent country and understanding of our national interests we signed this agreement for stability, goodwill and prosperity of our people, stability of the region and the world," Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in a speech after the signing. "The international forces are not allowed to enter in our holy sites and our mosques. Integrity of our life and houses will be safe, based on our constitution values," said Ghani Ghani's predecessor, Hamid Karzai, had long refused to agree to the deal, souring ties with the United States. Karzai cited his anger over civilian deaths and his belief that the war was not fought in the interests of his country. Ambassador Cunningham said the pact showed the United States remained committed to Afghanistan where foreign forces have helped provide security since the 2001 toppling of the radical Islamist Taliban government over its sheltering of planners of the Sept. 11 attacks. Minutes after the security pact was signed, a similar agreement with NATO was ratified to allow the alliance's European members to contribute to a residual foreign force. Ghani said in his speech that the agreement did not compromise Afghanistan's sovereignty and that either side has the right to withdraw from the pact within two years. Under the agreement, 12,000 foreign military personnel are expected to stay after 2014, when the combat mission of Afghanistan's U.S.-led NATO force ends. The force is expected to be made up of 9,800 U.S. troops with the rest from other NATO members. They will train and assist Afghan security forces in the war against the Taliban and its radical Islamist allies. The U.S. has the right to keep bases in Afghanistan as long as the security pact is in force, and in return it promises to raise funds to train and equip the Afghan security forces, which now number 350,000. Ghani was inaugurated on Monday and called on the Taliban to join peace talks. He formed a unity government with election rival Abdullah Abdullah after a prolonged stand-off over vote results that ended in a deal to make Ghani president and Abdullah a chief executive in the government with broad powers.