Afghan president Hamid Karzai said he will not sign the Bilateral Security Agreement unless the United States enters into peace talks with the Taliban.
“In exchange for this agreement, we want peace for the people of Afghanistan. Otherwise, it’s better for them to leave and our country will find its own way,” Karzai told a Kabul news conference Saturday.
“Starting peace talks is a condition because we want to be confident that after the signing of the security agreement, Afghanistan will not be divided into fiefdoms,” he continued.
Karzai’s demand for a peace process is the latest delay for the implementation of the BSA, which permits up to 15,000 U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan to train Afghan forces and conduct “counter-terror operations,” BBC reports.
The agreement received cautious approval from tribal leaders and the nation’s elders after a loya jirga meeting in November.
Without the deal, the U.S. must withdraw all troops by the end of 2014.
And the Guardian adds: