US troops could stay in Afghanistan until 2024

US marines Afghan

US Marines from the 2nd Battalion wait for helicopter transport as part of Operation Khanjar at Camp Dwyer in Helmand Province in Afghanistan.

The US and Afghanistan have reportedly finalized the draft of a mutual security pact indicating that US troops could remain in the country until 2024, according to Afghanistan. However, the US insists that details still need to be clarified.

Afghan politicians will meet in two days to vote on the new agreement.

While the 25-page “Security and Defense Cooperation Agreement Between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan” is still unsigned, the deal displays a willingness of the US to retain their military outposts for many years while continuing to pay to support Afghan security forces. This could potentially last until 2024, according to the document, which was released for public viewing by NBC News. It also attempted to clarify the ongoing contentious issue of whether the US military would be permitted to search civilian homes.

US Secretary of State John Kerry called Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday to request that US troops be permitted to enter Afghan homes in ‘exceptional’ circumstances, according to AP. Aimal Faizi, a Karzai spokesman, stated on Tuesday that any ‘extraordinary circumstances’ could not be misused.

A US State Department spokeswoman later said that “we are not there yet,” in regards to the pending agreement between the US and Afghanistan. She added that “there are still some final issues we are working through,” according to Reuters.

“The Parties acknowledge that continued US military operations to defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates may be appropriate and agree to continue their close cooperation and coordination toward that end,”stated the document.

A screenshot from

A screenshot from

Paragraph 4 states that “This Agreement may be terminated by mutual written agreement or by either Party upon two years’ written notice.”

On Monday, Reuters reported that Afghan President Hamid Karzai rejected a provision granting the United States authority to unilaterally carry out military operations within the country, including the search of civilian homes.

The NBC document is dated July 25, 2013, which accounts for some discrepancies in the document’s terms with the official statement. Hamid Karzai has long expressed objections to US troops being permitted to enter homes and US troop immunity to Afghan law. However, the US has said that both conditions are essential.

Aimal Faizi, a Karzai spokesman, told Reuters on Tuesday that: “both sides agreed that Obama will send a letter … assuring the President and the people of Afghanistan that the right to enter into Afghan homes by U.S. forces and the extraordinary circumstances will not be misused.”

Faizi attributed the concessions to a promise by President Obama that he would write a letter acknowledging that mistakes had been made and damage caused during the 12 year war.

Faizi confirmed that the letter recognizing the damage done to the country’s civilians would be presented at the meeting. “The whole idea of having a letter was to acknowledge the suffering of the Afghan people and the mistakes of the past. That was the only thing that satisfied the President,” he said.

Later this week, thousands of Afghan political and tribal leaders will meet to decide whether to allow US troops to remain in the country following the 2014 withdrawal of foreign fighting forces.

The five-day long negotiations are to begin on Thursday.

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