KABUL, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Saturday arrived in Afghan capital Kabul for an unannounced visit to the country, said an Afghan source.
"The U.S. secretary of defense arrived in Kabul Saturday evening and he will meet with U.S. and NATO commanders as well as with the U.S. soldiers stationed in the country," the official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The source said the Pentagon chief will not meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai as his visit is aimed at meeting the troops at the end of year ahead of Christmas.
The relations between the two countries remained strained over the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA).
A four-day traditional Loya Jirga or grand assembly of the elders and notables which was attended by 2,500 people from across the country that ended Nov. 24 has endorsed the BSA but Karzai has said that the pact would not be signed until after the presidential election on April 5, 2014.
Karzai attached some conditions to the signing of the accord, such as an assurance from Washington that it will bring security to Afghanistan, that it will ensure the holding of transparent elections, and that it will support the peace process with the Taliban.
Washington has wanted Kabul to sign the BSA by the end of 2013, warning that not signing the BSA would affect the support by the U. S. and allied forces to militancy-plagued Afghanistan.
More than 86,000-strong NATO-led foreign troops, down from the peak of 130,000 in 2010, are currently being deployed in Afghanistan.
Local analysts said if the two countries fail to reach the deal which governs the presence of U.S. troops after the 2014 pullout of the NATO-led forces, the United States will consider the complete withdrawal of troops, similar to the pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq two years ago.
They opined the withdrawal would certainly affect the physical stability in the militancy-hit country.
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KABUL, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- As the Loya Jirga or traditional grand assembly of tribal elders and notables is underway in Kabul amid tight security to debate the Bilateral Security Agreement ( BSA) with Washington, majority of the participants believe inking it sooner rather than later will serve national interest.Full Story
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