WASHINGTON, Nov 20, 2013 (AFP) - US 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 (BSA) to be voted on by Afghan elders.
He also stressed there was never any talk about the US issuing an apology to Afghanistan for events over the past 12 years, since the US invasion toppled the Islamic Taliban militants.
"Let me 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 press conference after bilateral talks with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop, and the two nations' defense secretaries.
He said he didn't want to go into further details, but added: "The agreement will speak for itself, when the agreement is approved." A draft text released Wednesday by Kabul said US forces remaining in Afghanistan after combat troops are withdrawn next year would be subject to American justice rather than local courts.
That had been a key sticking point in reaching an agreement in the long drawn-out negotiations.
Kerry stressed the remaining forces would have "a very limited role - it is entirely train, equip, and assist. There is no combat role for the United States forces." And he added that "the bilateral security agreement is an effort to clarify for Afghans and US military forces exactly what the rules are with respect to that ongoing relationship."