KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan and the United States signed a long-awaited security pact in Kabul Tuesday, allowing Washington to leave a contingent of troops in the country beyond 2014. Ambassador James Cunningham signed the Bilateral Security Agreement on behalf of the White House, opposite Afghanistan’s national security adviser Mohmmad Hanif Atmar.
The deal follows the inauguration Monday of new president Ashraf Ghani, after a protracted election process that lasted six months. Ghani's predecessor, Hamid Karzai, had refused to agree to the deal, citing his anger over civilian deaths during U.S.-led military operations and his belief that foreign soldiers were not fighting in the interests of his country. "This is a turning point in our relations with world,” Ghani said at the signing ceremony. “There are common threats and we need to have common partnership to fight it. We have the will to bring about peace and stability to this country.”
— Fazul Rahim and Alastair Jamieson