The U.S. and Afghanistan will sign a deal to allow thousands of American troops to remain overseas after the official combat mission concludes at the end of the year.
The BSA (bilateral security agreement) became a symbol of frayed U.S.-Afghan ties when President Hamid Karzai refused to sign the deal last year, infuriating Washington and other international allies.
“The BSA will be signed tomorrow, not by the president but by a senior minister,” Daoud Sultanzoy, a senior aide of Ghani’s, told AFP.
“The signing sends the message that President Ghani fulfills his commitments. He promised it would be signed the day after inauguration, and it will be.”
Karzai declined to sign the pact, even though it has popular support in Afghanistan and was approved by a traditional grand council or Loya Jirga.
Ghani was inaugurated on Monday in Afghanistan’s first democratic transfer of power as Karzai stepped down.
Under the deal, the U.S. deployment in Afghanistan will be scaled back to around 9,800 by the start of 2015.
Those forces will be halved by the end of 2015, before being reduced to a normal embassy presence by the end of 2016.
Along with troops from NATO allies including Germany and Italy, the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan in early 2015 will be about 12,500-strong.