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Kerry eases deadline for signing Afghan troops deal

Published on Dec 15, 2013 11:39 PM

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday appeared to give Afghan President Hamid Karzai extra time to sign a bilateral security deal, saying the pact did not have to be concluded by January.

And while he said it must be signed as soon as possible, he raised the option for the first time that the deal governing the presence of US troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014 could even by inked by Mr Karzai's successor, who will be chosen in April elections.

The United States wants the deal to ensure legal protection for any troops left behind in a training role after the international forces leave in late 2014. Washington has warned that, without a pact, it may pull all its military out.

In an interview with ABC television, the top US diplomat stressed the bilateral security agreement needed to be signed as soon a possible.

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