Karzai presses US for funding18/04/2012 - 08:12:10
Afghanistan's president has raised another condition for a long-awaited strategic partnership with the United States.
The accord must spell out the yearly US commitment to pay billions of dollars for the cash-strapped Afghan security forces.
The demand threatens to further delay the key bilateral pact and suggests that Afghan president Hamid Karzai is worried that the US commitment to his country is wavering as the drawdown of foreign forces nears.
The US already pays the vast majority of the budget to train, equip and run the Afghan security forces and expects to do so for years to come to compensate for Afghanistan's moribund economy.
But the yearly Congressional budget process, as well as the American public's weariness with the Afghan conflict, would make it difficult for Washington to commit to a dollar figure years in advance.
The strategic partnership agreement is crucial to the US exit strategy in Afghanistan.
American officials hope it will both map the course for US forces after the majority of combat troops leave in 2014 and give the Afghan people confidence they are not about to be abandoned by their most important international ally.
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