U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday he and Afghan President Hamid Karzai had agreed on the terms of a deal to cover the presence of American troops beyond 2014.
“As we sit here tonight we have agreed on the language that would be submitted to a Loya Jirga, but they have to pass it,” Kerry said of a draft bilateral security agreement to be voted on by Afghan elders.
Thousands of Afghan dignitaries and elders are due to convene in a giant tent in the capital Kabul Thursday to debate the fate of U.S. forces after a 2014 drawdown of a multinational NATO force.
Kerry also stressed there was never any talk about the U.S. issuing an apology to Afghanistan for events over the past 12 years, since the U.S. invasion toppled the Islamist Taliban militants.
“Let me be clear, President Karzai didn’t ask for an apology, there was no discussion of an apology, it’s just not even on the table,” Kerry said.
“What we’ve been talking about are the terms of the BSA itself which provide the outline of the structure, the process by which ISAF, the international forces, the United States forces themselves, would be engaged going forward,” Kerry told reporters at a news conference after bilateral talks with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop, and the two nations’ defense secretaries.
Efforts to finalize the pact stalled Tuesday amid disagreement over whether U.S. President Barack Obama had agreed to issue a letter acknowledging mistakes made during the 12-year Afghan war.
The Afghan government said it had received assurances that an Obama letter would be provided this week to the grand council of Afghan elders, known as a Loya Jirga.