Afghanistan and US agree deal on strategic partnership

US soldiers on patrol with Afghan troops. 22 April 2012 There have been disagreements between Kabul and Washington over funding security following the US withdrawal

US and Afghan negotiators have finalised a partnership agreement for the US role in Afghanistan after its forces withdraw at the end of 2014.

The draft agreement on their long-term relationship was signed in the Afghan capital Kabul after months of talks.

No details were released, with the deal to be reviewed by both presidents.

There have been sharp disagreements over how much financial support the US and Nato will provide after foreign troops leave.

Last week the Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on the US to make a written commitment to pay a minimum of $2bn (£1.2bn) towards the maintenance of Afghan forces.

'Strong foundation'

At last week's meeting of Nato ministers, the US was asking other nations to pay up to $1bn (£630m) a year, while it provides up to $3bn a year in support.

But it was unclear if the US was willing to make a firm commitment.

The agreement was signed on Sunday in Kabul by US ambassador Ryan Crocker and Afghanistan's national security adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta.

"The document finalised today provides a strong foundation for the security of Afghanistan, the region and the world and is a document for the development of the region," Mr Spanta said in the statement announcing the deal.

A final commitment on funding Afghan security is expected to be announced at the Chicago summit of Nato leaders next month.

There have been doubts over whether the Afghan forces would be able to provide adequate security once Nato forces withdraw.

But at last week's Nato meeting the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said the co-ordinated attacks by the Taliban in Kabul in which two Afghan soldiers and 17 militants were killed earlier this month, showed otherwise.

"The response by the Afghan national security forces were fast and effective and the attacks failed... So the Afghans are proving themselves increasingly ready to take control of their own future".

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