Taliban back Karzai in US pact dispute

AFP , Monday 2 Dec 2013

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai listens to Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (not pictured) during a joint news conference in Kabul November 30, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Taliban insurgents fighting against the US-backed Afghan government expressed their support on Monday for President Hamid Karzai's refusal to sign a security pact with Washington.

Karzai is locked in a public dispute with the US over the security deal, which would allow some US soldiers to remain in Afghanistan after NATO's combat mission ends next year.

"It seems he has sensed the truth, and we hope this opposition comes from Afghani pride and is for the sake of ending the nation's problems," the Islamists, who ruled from 1996-2001, said in a statement.

"It is obvious to all that the Afghan people have never wanted foreign invaders in their land... He should, without any hesitance, distance himself from this historical shame."

The Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) could see several thousand US troops staying on in Afghanistan to train local security forces and undertake counter-terror operations.

The US is seeking to wrap up the pact before the end of the year, but Karzai has indicated his country would only sign after next year's presidential elections in April.

Karzai last week refused to sign the deal, even though a loya jirga assembly of tribal leaders that he had convened voted for him to do so.

The president, who is due to stand down ahead of the elections, on Sunday accused Washington of halting essential supplies to some army and police units in an effort to force him to sign.

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